LAHORE: In what is bound to provide fodder for protest rallies already calling for heads to roll, a number of members of a joint investigation team (JIT) investigating the Model Town shootings held the Shahbaz Sharif-led government responsible for the tragic incident, The Express Tribune has learnt.
According to sources, a few members of the JIT – which comprises representatives of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), Intelligence Bureau (IB), Police, Special Branch (SB) and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) – have included an ‘Ikhtilafi’ (dissenting) note in the report, which pins the blame on the lower cadres of the police force.
The note states that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, then Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah, then principal secretary to the chief minister Dr Tauqeer Shah and other senior police officers were directly or indirectly responsible for the killing of over a dozen PAT workers.
At least 14 PAT workers were killed and over 100 people were injured when police clashed with PAT workers on June 17 in front of Tahirul Qadri’s residence in Model Town, Lahore.
According to sources, Punjab police, the Special Branch, CTD and civilian spy agency, IB, tried to indict low-ranking police officials by convincing the Superintendent of Police (SP) Model Town to admit that he had only ordered policemen to open aerial fire after PAT workers opened fire on the police. The SP’s statement, however, could not be supported by any evidence because no weapons were recovered from PAT workers.
Further, in the dissenting note, the officials said that the FIR registered by the police on the Model Town incident should be discharged because PAT had not accepted it, no witnesses of the aggrieved party had appeared and the police had hidden key facts pertaining to the case.
Despite the JIT's recommendations, Faisal Town police station has refused to register a case according to the PAT application in which 21 persons, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, have been named.
The 32-page JIT report has been submitted to the Punjab home secretary, Punjab inspector general of police and other concerned officials, sources familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune.
On Thursday, due to the completion of the investigation and submission of a charge sheet, an Anti-Terrorism Court sent four policemen, including Station House Officer (SHO) Sheikh Amir Saleem, Elite Force Inspector Hafiz Athar and two other low-ranking officials, on a 14-day judicial remand for their alleged involvement in the Model Town tragedy. The police said that the investigation process had been completed and there was no need to remand any other officials.