LAHORE: With police still to open investigations into the killing of 14 Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers in Lahore’s Model Town neighbourhood, the Punjab government has formed a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the case.
The delay in investigation comes despite a lapse of two months since a second FIR was registered in the case.
The five-member JIT, which will be headed by Quetta Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Abdul Razzaq Cheema, was constituted following a notification issued by the Punjab home secretary.
“A joint investigation team under Section 19 (I) of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 is hereby constituted to probe and finalise investigation in case FIR No696/2014, dated August 28, 2014,” read the notification, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
In addition to the CCPO, the team will include a representative each from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the notification stated. A police superintendent and deputy superintendent, both of whom will be nominated by the Punjab inspector general, will also be part of the JIT, it added.
The Punjab home department had earlier constituted another JIT to probe the matter, immediately after the first FIR – No510/2014 – was registered on June 17 this year. During its probe, two of the team’s members – representatives of IS and Military Intelligence – recommended quashing the first FIR which was lodged against workers of PAT and Minhajul Quran by police themselves.
The second FIR – No696/2014 – was registered by Minhajul Quran Director Administration Muhammad Jawad Hamid and accused 22 high profile government figures, including the prime minister, Punjab chief minister, interior minister and others, of being responsible for the deaths of 14 PAT workers in clashes with the police.
Despite the lapse of two months since it was registered, police have failed to start their investigation and have not issued a single notice to any of the 22 accused.
Reacting to news about the constitution of the second JIT, PAT President Raheeq Abbasi termed the move a bid to give the Punjab chief minister and others a ‘clean chit’.
“The purpose behind the formation of this JIT is to allow Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and other government functionaries to walk away scot-free,” he said.
The PAT president said the party was not consulted before forming the new JIT. “We were never taken into confidence… we did not recommend the name of Abdul Razzaq Cheema, we had in fact nominated senior police officer Shahid Hayat,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2014.