200 cops surround village in search of ‘Qatli’

Villagers say they have been under siege by the police for 18 hours.

Safdar Ali December 22, 2010

SHEIKHUPURA: Police officials surrounded a local village suspecting a proclaimed offender and his accomplices to be seeking refuge in the area.

According to Jattan Village, Hardev resident Kashif, a contingent of over 200 police officials surrounded the village after 10 pm on Monday night and camped outside for over 18 hours in search of a proclaimed offender. “They locked everyone in and kept firing gun shots in the air all night. It was terrifying,” he said.

Sheikhupura District Police Officer (DPO), Akhtar Lalika, said that the police had been tipped off that notorious murderer and proclaimed offender Mohammad Akbad alias ‘Aqqu Qatli’ was having a meal with his accomplices at the local tea house in the village.

“We received a call stating that Qatli was sharing a meal with his friends in the village and that we could arrest him,” Lalika said.

A team of over 200 police officials surrounded the village within 15 minutes of receiving the call and trapped all the residents inside. “We made sure that no one could go in or come out and several officials went in looking for him,” the DPO said.

Villagers said that the police kept firing all night and also tear gassed the village.

“Everyone made sure to stay locked inside the house during the ‘siege’ and then we heard about the fire,” said local farmer Ameer Ali. Ali told reporters that the police had set fire to acres of sugar cane crop which included his fields as well as those belonging to his neighbour Muhammad Rafeeq.

“I don’t know who they were looking for but I think the police should be arrested for terrorising us all night,” Rafeeq said.
“Our entire crop was destroyed and in the morning several villagers found their cattle dead because of the firing,” said Ali.

DPO Lalika said that the police had been on the look out for proclaimed offender Qatli for over three years. “He has been charged with over 27 counts of murder and scores of robberies.

We are sure he is still here,” the DPO said. Mohammad Akbar is a originally a resident of the Jayyan village and several police officials have reportedly taken his mother, brother and sister in for questioning hoping to force Qatli to give himself up. “So far we haven’t found him but we know he is here and we will not surrender our post until he surrenders himself,” constable Rashid Bajwa said.

Several residents of the village said that they had been called in for questioning by the police and that they had been abused.
“We don’t know anything. Why should we all be punished just because a murderer happened to eat at a stall in our village,” said resident Aqib. Police officials are still camped outside the village and no villagers were allowed to leave their homes on Tuesday.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2010.


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