The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Islamabad on Saturday distanced itself from the death of Mian Javed Ahmed, a University of Sargodha professor who had died on Friday.
The corruption watchdog said it "rejects media reports" and made it clear that "it did not have a role" in the educationist's death.
"Mian Javed, on court orders, was sent to jail in a healthy state almost two months ago," the bureau's Islamabad chapter stated in a press release. "His death took place at Services Hospital Lahore under jail custody."
NAB pointed out that NAB Chairman Javed Iqbal had issued "clear instructions" to not handcuff any accused — directives it said are being adhered to.
NAB Lahore later expanded on the topic, saying that it's the jail authorities that are responsible for matters related to the accused in their custody, and that NAB does not have a say in such matters.
In cases of judicial custody, NAB Lahore explained, jails officials issue orders pertaining to any emergency situation of those detained.
"As per the jail manual, any NAB official's interference is unimaginable," it added.
Meanwhile, Mian Javed Ahmed's post-mortem examination was conducted at the Mian Mansha Hospital today.
According to DawnNewsTV, the body was later handed over to Ahmed's family, whereas his funeral prayers are expected to take place in EME Society.
IG Prisons orders inquiry; PPP assails NAB
IG Prisons Mirza Shahid Saleem today ordered an inquiry into the case and directed DIG Prisons Malik Mubashir to furnish a report within two days.
"Whether Mian Javed's death took place in jail or at the hospital ... this is being ascertained," the IG Prisons said. "Departmental action will be taken if anyone is found guilty following the inquiry."
Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Nafeesa Shah has called for a judicial inquiry into the professor's death and vowed to raise the matter in the parliament.
"The handcuffed corpse of a professor is a slap in the face of humanity," Shah said, adding that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman should take the responsibility of Ahmed's death.
Ahmed, who was arrested by the NAB in October over allegations of establishing illegal campuses and minting millions from students, died while in judicial custody at the Lahore District Jail.
According to the Lahore District Jail authorities, the incarcerated professor had suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed to Services Hospital where the doctors pronounced him dead on arrival.
On Thursday, in the ongoing illegal campuses case, the accountability bureau had obtained an extension in the judicial remand until January 2 for Ahmed and four other professors arrested in the same case.
The university's former registrar retired Brig Rao Jamil, Mandi Bahauddin sub-campus CEO Waris and his partner Naeem, and former director of administration Akram were the other suspects arrested by NAB.
The suspects had purportedly made millions by opening illegal campuses in Lahore and Mandi Bahauddin.
NAB alleged that hundreds of students who studied at the illegal campuses of the university were charged millions of rupees. However, neither were examinations conducted nor were the students issued degrees. The affected students have time and again staged protests against the university administration.
Following the protests, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had taken notice of the issue and referred the case to the NAB Lahore director general.
NAB issues clarification
Following the professor's death, the NAB's Lahore chapter had issued a clarification, mentioning that the suspect had been in judicial remand since October and that his good health had been verified by jail authorities before he was taken into custody.
"The deceased had been shifted to jail in good health," the statement said, adding that the professor had been taken to Services Hospital today "after he experienced chest pains".
"According to regulations, jail authorities do not take custody of a suspect if his health is deteriorating," NAB said in its statement.
The accountability bureau strongly condemned the notion that the professor passed away in NAB's custody and expressed grief over his passing.
Senate Standing Committee for Human Rights takes notice
Senate Standing Committee for Human Rights Chairman Mustafa Nawaz took notice of the professor's death and summoned the NAB director general and the IG Prisons Punjab in person at the committee's next meeting.
"A person's death under custody is a grave matter," the chairman said.
He ordered that details regarding the professor's incarceration and the ongoing case, along with his health records be provided at the earliest.
"It is evident that the law is being used against the weak," he remarked, adding that the law was "like a spider's web for the powerful".
"What sort of accountability is this, the scope of which does not extend beyond students and politicians?" the chairman said in criticism of the bureau.