Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Saturday ordered the arrest of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel involved in the alleged shootout in Sahiwal where four persons — including a husband, wife and their teenage daughter — were killed while their minor son received bullet wounds, DawnNewsTV reported.
The CTD personnel were taken into custody following the directives issued by the chief minister. He said the CTD officials will be punished if found responsible for the cold-blooded killings.
Buzdar, who left for Sahiwal following the incident, also directed Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat to remain in contact with Sahiwal's deputy commissioner and ensure the provision of best-possible treatment to the injured children at the DHQ hospital.
As conflicting versions of the Sahiwal ‘encounter’ continued to surface on local media followed by the debate on social media platforms, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry aired a video statement to address the issue.
"The prime minister has asked the Punjab chief minister to immediately reach Sahiwal where an incident has taken place in which the CTD officials are claiming that suspected terrorists were killed. However, media reports show something else and statements recorded by injured children reveal a different story," said the information minister.
He said the prime minister has instructed that the true facts be brought forward, based on which an investigation will then be conducted.
"If the CTD version is fabricated, then definitely action will be taken as per the relevant laws and the officials will be made an example of. And if their version is accurate and they [the deceased] were, in fact, terrorists then that too will be brought before the public," Chauhdry concluded.
The CTD had initially claimed that the operation was conducted on the basis of information regarding the presence of suspected terrorists. However, eyewitnesses had told DawnNewsTV that the family members were shot dead in cold blood by the CTD personnel and categorically stated that no weapon was recovered from the vehicle after the alleged shootout.
The Punjab government, through a notification, announced the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the incident.
The three-member team will be headed by Punjab Police Additional Inspector General (AIG) Syed Ijaz Hussain Shah, and shall include an official from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and an official from the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The probe team has been asked to submit its report within three days.
Late on Saturday, the chief minister addressed a news conference where he vowed that the people will "see justice unfold". He said that the children, who he said were like "his own children" were now the responsibility of the state.
Buzdar confirmed the constitution of a JIT and assured the people that all those responsible will "get the punishment they deserve". He requested the people to be patient and wait for the results which will be submitted by the JIT within 72 hours.
- — With additional input from Ali Waqar in Lahore.*