Several witnesses to the killing of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf worker Haq Nawaz have placed the onus of blame on the “indifferent attitude” of the police which did nothing to curb “the excesses of PTI workers who were openly burning tyres, disrupting traffic and harassing citizens”, an official privy to the matter told The Express Tribune.
The three-member team, headed by Provincial Secretary for Environment Iqbal Chohan, on Wednesday recorded statements of witnesses and traders who were at Novelty Bridge when Nawaz was shot dead. They told the team that PTI workers were carrying kerosene oil, clubs and hockey sticks.
They said at around 10:30am, dozens of PTI supporters gathered at Millat Chowk, Abdullahpur and Novelty Bridge and blocked traffic. They threw stones and bricks at passersby and shops in the area. Though police were deployed there, they did nothing to stop them, they said. The official said that the PTI did not present any witnesses. Dr Asad Muazzam, of the PTI, said they had no faith in the inquiry tribunal. He said the chief minister had ordered the inquiry in order to give a clean chit to the politicians responsible for the violence. He said PTI workers were not carrying weapons or clubs. They had not attacked members of rival political parties. “We were holding a peaceful protest demonstration… we are not hooligans,” he said. Muazzam said there was a conspiracy by PML-N workers who were following Minister Rana Sanaullah’s orders. “But instead of arresting those who shot Nawaz, the police beat up PTI workers and registered cases against our leaders including Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Arif Alvi and Asad Umar.”
Asked to confirm the witnesses’ statements, Chohan, the convener of the committee, said they were in the process of recording the witnesses’ statements and could not divulge details. “We are only authorised to share the details with the chief minister,” he said. He will decide whether or not to make the inquiry report public, he said.
Chohan said they were collecting information pertaining to the killing and would look into the police strategy to see what went wrong.
The committee was constituted by the chief minister to ascertain the facts around the riot and killing of the PTI worker. It has been asked to pinpoint any failure or negligence of government functionaries and look into statements made to incite people to violence.
Other members of the committee include Additional Commissioner Kazim Awan and Toba Tek Singh DPO Dr Asif Shehzad.
The proceedings are being held at the office of the divisional commissioner. Over two days, the committee has recorded statements of more than 83 people including City Police Officer Sohail Habib Tajik, DCO Noorul Amin Mengal, three DSPs, two SPs and 16 constables. Several PML-N workers have also recorded statements pertaining to the scuffles at Novelty Bridge, Millat Chowk, Ghanta Ghar and Abdullahpur.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2014.