LAHORE: The transfer of Pakpattan district police officer (DPO) Rizwan Umer Gondal on Monday and initiation of an inquiry against him after he refused to tender ‘an apology’ to Khawar Fareed Maneka, the former husband of first lady Bushra, for alleged ‘misconduct’ of his subordinates triggered a debate on social media.

The DPO was asked by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to personally visit the Dera of Mr Maneka to tender the apology, an official privy to the development told Dawn.

On DPO’s refusal, he said, the CM directed Inspector General of Punjab Dr Syed Kaleem Imam to remove Mr Gondal from his post.

As soon as the IGP made the DPO officer on special duty (OSD), the issue went viral on social media, inviting strong criticism in the wake of the PTI government’s claims that it believes in merit.

Pakpattan’s district police officer refuses to tender an apology to the first lady’s ex-husband

IGP Imam said Mr Gondal had not been transferred under any pressure but for making false statements.

He claimed that when the DPO was asked about the incident of misconduct of police with a citizen, he lied and made false statements regarding transfer orders on social media.

A police source said Mr Maneka’s vehicle was stopped by police on Aug 23 at a picket on Deepalpur Road which was set up in the wake of rising incidents of street crime in Pakpattan.

As Mr Maneka’s driver ignored the signal, cops manning the picket chased and intercepted the vehicle.

On this, the source said, Mr Maneka reportedly misbehaved and hurled abuses at them.

Subsequently, the matter came to the notice of the top police brass and senior leadership of the PTI.

On the intervention of the prime minister, the Punjab government summoned DPO Gondal on Friday and asked him to go to the Dera of Mr Maneka in Pakpattan to offer an apology declaring it the best solution to settle the matter.

The DPO was also conveyed that he would face the music in case he refused to “say sorry” to the top political figure of the area.

Declaring it an insult to his profession, the DPO refused to obey the orders, saying the policemen were not at fault and they did their job sincerely.

The source said that Mr Maneka nominated his friend, PML-N MPA from Gujranwala Iqbal Gujjar, to represent him to take up the issue with the police high-ups.

Mr Gujjar suggested to the DPO to visit Mr Maneka’s Dera for an apology. Regional Police Officer of Sahiwal Shariq Kamal Siddiqi was also present on the occasion.

The IGP, through a notification, directed Mr Gondal to report to the central police office in Lahore for further direction and formed an inquiry committee headed by Additional IG (investigation) Abubakr Khuda Bux. DIG (investigation/monitoring Waqas Nazir was also a member of the committee, the source said, adding that the committee had initiated the inquiry.

The committee was formed on a written complaint of Mr Maneka who, in his application, alleged that the DPO had misbehaved with him.

As media highlighted the issue, Mr Maneka denied submitting any complaint against Mr Gondal.

Appearing before the inquiry committee on Monday, Mr Gondal submitted a written statement, denying the charges of misbehaviour and saying he and his force had done a lawful job.

The source said that earlier the committee had sought a report from the police’s special branch on the matter. The special branch’s report was in favour of the DPO. The fate of Mr Gondal, however, depends on the final report of the inquiry committee which is likely to be submitted to the prime minister in the next 24 hours.

Sources said that another issue which irked Mr Maneka was police interference in his family’s spiritual rituals. A police team spotted a young boy and a girl escorted by their driver on Aug 5 night walking barefoot to Baba Farid shrine. When police asked the travellers about their identity, it was learnt that they were the son (Ibrahim) and daughter (Mishal) of Khawar Fareed Maneka and first lady Bushra. Police asked them not to travel alone as the road was deserted and escorted them to the shrine against their wishes.

Police reported the matter to the DPO who talked to Mr Maneka with a request to seek police security in such events.

When contacted, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the inspector general of police had already ordered an inquiry into the incident.

“We will be able to comment on the issue once the inquiry is complete,” said Mr Chaudhry, who is also information secretary of the PTI.

A source in the Punjab chief minister office told Dawn that CM Buzdar wanted to clarify his position regarding his meeting with DPO Gondal, but he was asked not to issue any statement in this regard.

“Mr Usman was conveyed that the IGP is issuing a statement in this regard and, therefore, he is not required to clarify his position,” the source said.

Shafiq Butt from Sahiwal also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2018


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