LAHORE: The pace of investigation being carried out by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) into the Sahiwal incident in which four people were killed recently is very slow when it comes to collection of pieces of evidence and submitting them for forensic analysis, Dawn can reveal.
According to a post-mortem report carried by media outlets a few days ago, one of the victims, Khalil, sustained 13 bullets, Zeeshan 10, Areeba six and her mother Nabeela Bibi four as a result of firing on their car by personnel of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Jan 19.
The JIT has sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) the shells of 60 bullets fired by the CTD personnel for analysis that were collected from the crime scene after the police operation.
The spent cartridges were provided to the PFSA in some sealed packs two days after the incident.
‘Act of wilful disappearance’ of policemen mystifies JIT
“We have received so far only two things — the car the slain persons were travelling in and 60 used bullet shells,” the director general of PFSA, Mohammad Ashraf Tahir, told Dawn.
He said the PFSA experts were waiting for physical evidence to analyse them to finalise their report.
“After waiting for a week or so, the PFSA has written a letter to the Punjab police to provide us all the relevant record and objects to expedite the analysis process,” he said, adding that the things still awaited included the post-mortem report, fingerprints if collected from the crime scene, and the blood-stained clothes of the victims.
The most important pieces of evidence needed were the official weapons used by the CTD personnel during the operation, Mr Tahir said.
He said the bullet shells provided to the PFSA could not be analysed without analysing the weapons used at the crime scene and the agency had requested the Punjab police authorities to ensure their provision without delay.
On the other hand, an official source said many “wilful blunders, loopholes and faults” were reported when the JIT started its investigation into the case.
He said the JIT members were surprised to know that unlike previous operations launched by the CTD in various cities of Punjab, its personnel in this case disappeared from the scene, allowing the public to do whatever they pleased at the site.
“Neither did they preserve/protect the crime scene from contamination nor did they stay there to investigate the spot, raising questions in the minds of JIT members,” said the official.
Instead of calling the forensic experts to collect pieces of evidence to produce them in a court of law, they left the place in sheer violation of the SOPs, giving the public access to the crime scene and creating potential risks of polluting the scene.
He said that another pertinent question for the JIT would be the “act of wilful disappearance” of the personnel from the crime scene, after leaving the dead bodies unattended in their car.
The CTD’s former chain of command was already facing criticism for frequently changing its versions following the tragic incident, he said.
Soon after the incident CTD claimed that the operation was launched to recover the “kidnapped children”, but a few hours later they declared that all those killed, including a woman and her daughter, were terrorists.
It also claimed that the victims’ car had tinted glasses and the “terrorists” were killed in firing by their own accomplices. The CTD’s claim about the presence of terrorists on two bikes also surprised many, as did their talk of recovery of a suicide jacket and hand grenades from the car.
The next day the CTD spokesperson declared that the three members of a family who were killed in the incident were innocent.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019