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Election violence cases: Hanif Abbasi gets clean chit

Updated July 24, 2013

RAWALPINDI, July 23: The police have quashed a criminal case registered against Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader and former MNA Hanif Abbasi related to an attack on the police before the May 11 general elections.

The police also gave the ruling party leader a ‘clean chit’ in two other cases related to election violence, it has been learnt.

On May 7, when PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was to address a public meeting at Liaquat Bagh, party workers and activists led by Mr Abbasi, the candidate for NA-56, took out a rally from Rehmanabad.

When the rally reached Chandni Chowk on Benazir Bhutto Road, a police team deployed there stopped them from proceeding towards the venue in their vehicles.

As a result, the participants clashed with the police leaving four personnel injured and a police bus damaged. Besides, the uniforms of some policemen were also torn.

A case was registered with the Waris Khan police the same day against Mr Abbasi and about 700 workers of the party on the complaint of Inspector Akbar Abbas, who was on duty at Chandni Chowk at that time.

However, it has been learnt that ASI Maqsood Akhtar, who was leading the investigation into case, has now given a clean chit to Mr Abbasi.

On the basis of the report, the police have quashed the FIR and sent a report to the regional police officer (RPO).

The IO in his report stated that Mr Abbasi was sitting on the stage at Liaquat Bagh when the incident occurred at Chandni Chowk at about 8pm on May 7.

The report said Mr Abbasi’s statement recorded with the police on June 29 and the video footage of the rally had confirmed the innocence of the former lawmaker.

“Hanif Abbasi along with his supporters was present on the stage at Liaquat Bagh at 8pm on May 7, 2013,” the report added.

It said after the PML-N candidate recorded his statement before the investigating officer, his arrest was put on pending.

The IO said no private witness was available with the police to record his statement regarding the election-related violence.

“As far as the damage caused to the police bus is concerned, its windowpanes were smashed when miscreants threw some objects on it from a distance,” the report said.

It added: “There was no evidence that the participants of the rally had injured the policemen or tore their uniforms.”

The report concluded that on the basis of the evidence available with the police, the case is liable to be discharged/quashed.In another related move, the Sadiqabad police also gave a clean chit to the PML-N leader in two cases related to election violence.

One of the cases was registered on May 9 against Mr Abbasi, his PSO Sheikh Mohammad Anwar, Khurshid Ahmed, Akram, Akram Rehman, Mohammad Irfan, Malik Bilquees, Malik Nasir, Nadeem Baig and 250 to 300 political workers for blocking a road and shouting slogans at their rival party candidate.

The police, however, dispersed the PML-N workers to avert a clash.

The report prepared by the police said five of the accused nominated in the FIR - except Mr Hanif Abbasi - were arrested and the case was still under trial in the court of law against them. However, the police in its investigation declared Mr Abbasi ‘innocent’ as his presence at the scene could not be established by the investigating officer.

Similarly, the police declared Mr Abbasi innocent in another FIR registered against him under section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) ordinance during the election campaign.

In this case too, the police claimed that the presence of Mr Abbasi at the spot of the crime could not be proved.

“Former MNA Hanif Abbasi’s presence at the scene of the crime was not proven during the investigation of the case, therefore, he is being declared innocent,” the report said.

When Israrul Haq Advocate, who is also the president of the district bar association, was contacted and asked if the police had the power to quash a case and declare a suspect innocent, he said: “Under the law, the police should seek their legal department’s opinion before discharging a case and then inform the area magistrate.”