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SAHIWAL: A man who tried to set himself and his four minor children on fire allegedly to protest fake cases against his brother was handed over to police by passersby here on Thursday.

However, District Police Officer (DPO) Syed Khurram Ali denied the allegations levelled by Sabir, 30, and said his brother Ishaq was an absconder wanted in many criminal cases and was captured by police.

The DPO said Sabir’s self-immolation bid and his attempt to burn his minor children was a tactic to pressurise police to free a criminal.

Sabir, a resident of 48/GD village and a tailor by profession, came to Tanky Wala Chowk, along with his daughters – Amina, 8, Ayesha, 6, Asma, 5 -- and son Abu Sufyan, 4, on Thursday morning.

At the busy crossing, he doused himself and the minors with kerosene and started shouting that he had been compelled to commit suicide along with his children because of Fateh Sher police’s highhanded.

Fayaz, a local shopkeeper, told Dawn that at first people ignored the man, but when he threw kerosene on himself and the children, some passersby overpowered him and called police.

Civil Lines police officials arriving on the spot took the minors in protective custody and arrested Sabir.

After an hour or so some women of Sabir’s family staged a demo at the crossing, claiming he had been killed by police in an encounter. The claim later proved another ploy to get media attention as Sabir was safe in police custody at that time.

Sources said the Civil Lines police registered a case against Sabir for attempting to kill self and his children under sections 325 and 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Fateh Sher police SHO Imdad Khan told Dawn that Sabir’s brother Ishaq alias Baoo was nominated in FIR No 689/13 lodged under sections 395 and 397 of the PPC.

“Ishaq was an absconder and wanted by police in many criminal cases,”, he SHO said, adding that Sabir wanted to create a Muzaffargarh-like situation where a woman recently committed self-immolation to protest police attitude.

Civil Lines SHO Waheed Khan said all the four children were safe and would be handed over to their mother after completion of legal procedures.

The women who had staged a fake demo were later released by police after being warned, he added.