ISLAMABAD: Investigators probing the assassination of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer are focusing on ascertaining if the murder was an individual act or part of a conspiracy.
Earlier, reports claimed that killer Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri had told investigators that some of his colleagues in the governor’s security convoy were aware of his intentions to kill him.
The reports also claimed that Qadri was declared “unfit” for VVIP duty and a statement by former regional police officer (RPO) of Rawalpindi Nasir Khan Durrani confirmed that during his time, such a declaration had been made.
Durrani told The Express Tribune that it was the duty of the district police officer or the city police chief to determine if a person was fit for deputation.
Meanwhile, until the filing of this report, an investigation team formed by the interior ministry was unable to meet the 24-hour deadline given by the interior minister for the submission of an interim report. The team, headed by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police (Operations) Bani Amin, has sought more time for interrogation.
As Qadri was produced before a special magistrate amid tight security on Wednesday, police were given a one-day physical transit remand of the killer. He has been moved to an undisclosed location for further interrogation.
Another investigation team headed by DIG Bani Amin was formed by the Chief Commissioner of Islamabad Tariq Mehmud Pirzada. The team comprises Senior Superintendent of Islamabad Police (SSP) Tahir Alam Khan, Superintendent of Police (Investigations) Tahir Ayub Khan, SP Crime Investigation Department (CID) Gulfam Nasir, SHO Kohsar Hakim Khan and officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The investigators are trying to find out if Qadri’s colleagues were in the know, or even worse, if they assisted him.
According to sources, guards deputed on VIP duty are especially trained in securing the person following a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). “It is strange that, in a natural reaction, none of the guards shot at their colleague,” said a police official.
However, the official said it was not surprising that Qadri managed to get himself deployed for duty despite being declared unfit. “It is common practice to get such a deployment as the duty in charge (moharar) might not be aware of the bar on him,” he said.
Earlier, investigators visited the crime scene and collected more evidence, including 28 spent casings. A police team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) CIA Basheer Ahmed Noon was gathering information from Qadri’s neighbours about his religious affiliations. Statements of other police officials in the governor’s security squad were also recorded.
The police, through Pirzada, also requested the secretary of the law and parliamentary division to appoint a reputed lawyer as the special public prosecutor.
A signed post-mortem report was also handed over to the police. The report confirmed that the governor was fired at from the back and that there were 26 entry wounds on his body and 14 exit wounds. He was shot from a distance of four to five feet. The autopsy report also stated that the governor died because of bullet wounds in his neck as his heart had remained safe.
In the FIR registered in the Kohsar police station, Taseer’s son Shaheryar said that his father was assassinated on the “persuasion” of certain “political and religious” groups. He said Taseer was shot at while he was coming out of a restaurant and was accompanied by seven bodyguards, including Qadri.
The police will produce the suspect before an anti-terrorism court on Thursday (today) to obtain further physical remand.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2011.
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