LAHORE, Aug 22: In what appears to be a desperate act of violence, a field police officer allegedly shot at and killed a 23-year-old youth following a minor argument over parking close to the Sargodha Circuit House on Eidul Fitr late on Monday, witnesses and police said.
There were some conflicting statements of police officers concerned whether or not the suspect Sargodha additional Superintendent of Police Nasir Muneef Qureshi in plainclothes was under the influence when he opened fire on four people enjoying eating while sitting in the car.
On the orders of the provincial police chief, Sargodha police in association with the Lahore police managed to arrest the suspect, who is son-in-law of poet and playwright Amjad Islam Amjad and belongs to 32nd Commoner, from outskirts of Lahore on very next day.
The news spread like a jungle fire among police officers who strongly criticised the PSP officer and termed the incident first-ever in the history of Police Service of Pakistan.
A source at police headquarters told Dawn that the incident took place in the absence of DPO Dr Rizwan who left his station for Lahore on Monday night apparently in violation of IG’s written orders that any field official would not go for leave during three Eid days.
Talking to this reporter, a couple of field police officers were of the view that the selection process of candidates by the Federal Public Service Commission needed to be improved so as to prevent induction of such people into the service.
Witnesses told police that a young man riding a car first hit another car and opened fire on four people after exchange of words.
Quoting initial statement of the suspect he gave to his district police officer, Sargodha Regional Police Officer Amjad Javed Saleemi told Dawn that Mr Qureshi came to the Circuit House on his private car where he objected to wrong parking by some youths who were enjoying some eating.
The suspect opened fire on tyres of their car after they failed to remove their vehicle and exchanged words at 11:50pm. The SP then took three youths to the police station with a claim that they opened fire on their fellow while the fourth victim was rushed to a hospital by Rescue 1122.
He said at that time nothing was established who opened fire on whom.
The RPO said the SP disappeared after the families of the arrested youngsters rushed to the police station where arrested youths told the police that the firing committed by other side left their friend fatally injured as they had nothing to do with the firing.
The RPO said it then appeared in the light of witnesses’ account, evidence collected from crime scene and statements of arrested youths that the SP opened indiscriminate fire on their car and his bullet left Tahir injured who was later pronounced dead at hospital. Saleemi said initially the victim’s father got registered a case against his three friends, but later they were released after being declared innocent and the SP was nominated in the FIR.
He said Nasir Qureshi’s cell phone was found powered-off after his disappearance and he was taken into custody on Tuesday afternoon.
He said Nasir fired at least 10 shots at other side, adding the police seized 10 empty shells, the suspect’s official pistol and his damaged car.
The RPO said according to victim side the suspect was alone in the car at the time of the incident and they had no scuffle with him.
He said it was not yet established that the SP was under the influence, but his strange acts and desperate shooting showed that he might have been ‘drunk’. Sargodha DPO Dr Muhammad Rizwan said the suspect initially told him that he opened fire on the victims and was later taken into custody from Model Town Link Road around Tuesday noon with the help of tracking system.
A Lahore police source, however, said the suspect was captured from Motorway II when he was leaving on his official vehicle along with his driver and official guards.
Sargodha Cantonment SHO Muhammad Shabraiz told this reporter that Nasir was accompanying his family and was apparently normal at the time of shooting.
He said the victim identified as Tahir Cheema succumbed to his injuries after a few moments, adding he was son of landlord Ejaz Ahmad Cheema of Farooq Colony, Sargodha.
IGP Mohammad Habibur Rehman told this reporter that an inquiry conducted by local police proved that the SP intentionally opened fire on Tahir after objecting to wrong parking and exchanging words. He said the suspect had been challaned.
An attempt to reach complainant Ejaz Cheema failed as his number was switched-off.