An FIR was finally registered against 21 persons, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, on Thursday, hours after Defence Minister Khawaja Asif announced that the process of lodging the FIR had begun.
The Punjab police received orders to register an FIR against those responsible for the deaths of 11 Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) supporters in a violent clash with the police on June 17 after which the Faisal Town police registered FIR No. 696/14 on the complaint of Minhajul Quran International’s director Admin Muhammad Jawad Hamid. The FIR was lodged under various sections including murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, rioting, criminal intimidation and abetment.
Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which was included in the previous FIR of the same incident lodged by the police against PAT activists, was not included in this FIR.
The FIR was lodged at the IG house where Faisal Town police station’s roznaamcha was brought and after consultation with the SP legal, CCPO Lahore Amin Wains, DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf, the FIR was lodged.
The complainant has stated that the DIG Operations was shown court orders; which allowed PAT to place barriers for security purposes. But the DIG added, “We have been ordered strictly by Punjab CM and the law minister to eliminate Dr Qadri’s family, even at the cost of the lives of PAT workers”, stated Jawad Hamid in the FIR.
He submitted that the DIG ordered teargas shelling and firing at Dr Qadri’s residence, despite the throngs of protesters and journalists. Cranes and bulldozers of the police removed the barriers and when female PAT activists gathered outside the secretariat, the DIG Operations threatened them with opening straight fire and asked them to move on the count to three. The women did not move away and the police, on the orders of DIG operations and SP Model Town, opened fire which killed Tanzila and Shazia who received bullet wounds in the face and neck, respectively.
The complainant said this act infuriated the activists who then protested against the police but were again fired upon due to which nine men lost their lives and at least 100 were injured.
The police entered the PAT Secretariat and started torturing activists, while snatching people’s mobile phones and wallets. Hamid claimed the police officials also snatched licensed weapons from the guards at the PAT Secretariat.
Gullu Butt was also mentioned in the FIR who was described as the “baton-wielding goon”, who apart from breaking several vehicles, took away valuables from these cars and was given a pat on the back by senior police officials.
The complainant alleged that the police operation was mandated by PM Nawaz Sharif , CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Hamza Shahbaz, former Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah, Home minister Chaudhry Nisar, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, State Minister For Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid.
Separately, a writ petition was filed in the Lahore High Court seeking the dissolution of national and provincial assemblies, on the contention that these assemblies have lost their legal status. The petition was moved by Pakistan Awami Tehreek through its Punjab chapter vice-president Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan. He prayed the court dissolute the national and provincial assemblies with directions to the election commission to hold fresh elections, so a real democratic government could be established.
A visibly worried Minister for Defence, Khawaja Asif, had earlier announced that the process for the registration of the FIR had begun. “We are accepting this as it is a legal demand, but no unconstitutional demands will be accepted,” Asif explained, while addressing the National Assembly on Thursday.
He confessed that there was a delay in lodging the FIR, adding that there is no reason to justify the Model Town tragedy, which the government has condemned time and again. The defence minister, who also holds the water and power portfolio, said it has proven that courts are not under the government’s influence and “we will not file an intra-court appeal to knock on the apex court’s door”.
He, however, firmly added, “We will not let these traders of dead bodies, who want bloodshed, achieve their vested interests.” This house will remain the supreme forum for running all affairs and a crowd of a few thousand cannot dictate this house, he said.
After the assembly proceedings, Khawaja Asif, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid addressed a press conference at the entrance of the parliament house. They appealed to Imran and Qadri to send their protesters home in a peaceful manner and free the “nerve centre of Pakistan”.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2014.