RAWALPINDI: The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) closed the investigation into the suicide bomb attack on the Imambargah in Gracy Lane on December 12, 2013. Like two bomb attacks in the past, the case was declared ‘untraced’ or unsolved.

Earlier, two terrorist attacks were similarly unsolved - the suicide bomb attack on a Muharram procession in Dhoke Syedan in November 2012 which left 20 dead and the second a bomb attack on Dr Hamid Hassan’s private clinic on August 30, 2012.

Imambargah Asna Ashri, located in Gracy Lane near Nur Khan Airbase Chaklala, was categorised by the district police as being less vulnerable to a terrorist attack. However, the Special Branch in a report which was sent to the then CPO Rawalpindi on October 13, 2013 had declared the Imambargah Asna Ashri as the second most vulnerable place in its list of 13 sensitive places and had urged the police to deploy extra security personnel.

Two months later, the Imambargah was attacked by a suicide bomber during a Majlis with 700 people in attendance, leaving four dead including Station House Officer Airport Inspector Rub-Nawaz and Sub-inspector Amanat Ali and 15 others injured.

A joint investigation team comprising of senior officials from the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Crime Investigation Agency and special branch had been formed to investigate the attack.

But after the CTD department was made functional and new counter terrorism laws were introduced by the current government, terrorism related cases were shifted to CTD Punjab.

Initially, the police claimed that a man parked his motorcycle in the parking lot and started walking towards the Imambargah. When the policemen and volunteers tried to stop and frisk him, he detonated the bomb he was wearing on his person.

However, it later emerged that that the suicide bomber was on foot and was not on a motorbike because all vehicles damaged in the attack were claimed by owners and the bomber’s motorbike was never found.

Meanwhile, the police called in some suspects for questioning but none was formally arrested.

Station House Officer-Airport Inspector Muhammad Jameel told Dawn that the CTD was now investigating all terrorism related cases. “The local police no longer have anything to do with the Gracy Lane bombing case,” he said.

When another senior police officer was asked why a third terrorism case was shelved by police and counter-terrorism department, he said: “Whenever the police are unsuccessful in finding any clues, they temporarily label the case as ‘untraced’.”

“If the police succeed in making any arrest in connection with the suicide attack case, the case file will be reopened and the investigation will be restarted,” he added.

Police experts say if the government had to check the menace of terrorism and speedy investigation of the cases, it has to revamp the police investigation wings and depoliticized the police, otherwise, the number of criminal and terrorism related cases titled as ‘untraced’ will pile up in coming days.

Published in Dawn ,July 13th, 2015

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