Incident like Sahiwal encounter should not occur again, LHC warns Punjab police chief

Published January 24, 2019
Relative and locals burn tires and block a main road to protest against the killing of a family by CTD officials in Lahore. ─ AP/File
Relative and locals burn tires and block a main road to protest against the killing of a family by CTD officials in Lahore. ─ AP/File

The Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice on Thursday formed a two-judge bench to hear a petition seeking a judicial inquiry into the Sahiwal encounter which resulted in the killing of four people, and asked the Punjab police chief to ensure such an incident does not take place in the province again.

On Jan 19, Khalil, a resident of Kot Lakhpat, Lahore, his wife Nabeela, their 13-year-old daughter, and their neighbour, Zeeshan, were on their way to a wedding in Burewala when they were killed in firing on their car near the toll plaza on GT Road in the Qadirabad area. The killings sent a shock wave across the country as one of the three surviving children who were witness to the episode denied the official version in a video that went viral on social media.

While hearing the petition, LHC Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmed Khan pointed out that forming a judicial commission is the prerogative of the Centre, not the provincial government. The petitioner responded that a request in this regard had been submitted to the federal government.

The petitioner's counsel told the court that the statements of every witness had not been recorded, upon which Justice Khan asked Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Amjad Saleemi about the progress made so far in the investigation.

IGP Saleemi told the court that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials who took part in the encounter had been arrested and a joint investigation team had been formed to probe the incident.

"How long will the inquiry take?" Justice Khan inquired. Saleemi replied that a detailed probe would require "at least" 30 days.

"The CTD officials [who were involved] have also been suspended," the police chief added.

"IG sahab, this is very cruel," Justice Khan said at one point. "Tell me, how does the police have the authority to spray someone with bullets?"

The chief justice warned that such an incident "should not take place anywhere in Punjab again".

"Tell all your district police officers," he asserted.

Justice Khan summoned the head of the JIT, Additional Inspector General Ijaz Hussain Shah, along with a complete record of the body's findings in the next hearing to be held on Jan 28.

The JIT had presented a preliminary report on its investigation earlier this week, in which it held the CTD officials responsible for the killings of three "innocent" family members.

The team has sought additional time to investigate further and ascertain facts concerning Zeeshan Javaid, the fourth person killed in the operation, who the Punjab government and CTD maintain has links with a terrorist outfit.

Opinion

Editorial

Mianwali raid
Updated 02 Feb, 2023

Mianwali raid

The military needs to share intelligence with civilian agencies to neutralise the militant menace nationwide.
Corruption unlimited
02 Feb, 2023

Corruption unlimited

PAKISTAN’S consistent slide on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index over the last several...
Women police officers
02 Feb, 2023

Women police officers

IN a heartening development, a second female police officer has been appointed as DPO in Attock, weeks after the...
Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...