‘Courtesy phone call’ adds to confusion in Sahiwal killings case

January 29, 2019

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Relatives of the victims of Sahiwal 'encounter' mourn their killing. — File photo
Relatives of the victims of Sahiwal 'encounter' mourn their killing. — File photo

LAHORE: The Counter Terrorism Department has approached the Lahore police for the arrest of its “so-called official” shortly after the lawyer for the family of the Sahiwal firing victims claimed that he had received a threatening call from a senior officer of the CTD.

Lawyer Syed Shahbaz Bukhari, while talking to the media at his office here on Monday, claimed that the “caller” introduced himself as the CTD official and asked him to stand down from the matter. He also played the audio recording of the conversation before the media persons, declaring it a concrete evidence of the CTD’s involvement in hurling serious threats at him.

Mr Bukhari said he had also provided the audio recording of the “CTD officer” to the Joint Investigation Team headed by additional IG Police Ijaz Hussain Shah. He requested the JIT to make it part of the investigation as evidence to proceed against the officers according to the law.

However, the matter took a surprise turn later in the day when the CTD investigated the issue and got data of the “caller” and traced him as a practicing medic Dr Hamayun Taimoor. The CTD also obtained his Computerised National Identity Card and the record of SIM he had used to make the audio call which was recorded by the lawyer. “Dr Taimoor is resident of Askari Complex of Cantonment Board Lahore and he has nothing to do with the CTD,” says a senior CTD official.

Lawyer for victims’ family claims he received threatening call from a senior officer of CTD which traces ‘caller’ as practising doctor

Requesting anonymity, he said that apparently it seemed that the lawyer for the victims’ family wanted to get some benefits like security by accusing the CTD of resorting to such tactics. He said the CTD had investigated the matter and found out that the caller was a close friend of Advocate Bukhari.

Dr Taimoor also later confirmed to Dawn that he knew the lawyer and his brother very well. “I am practicing doctor and running a clinic in Gulberg,” he said, adding that he had just made a ‘courtesy call’ to Mr Bukhari being his friend.

He made it clear that he was not the officer of the CTD. However, he said he had done some “assignments” with the CTD in the past, but refused to unveil the nature of the assignments.

“I have neither hurled threats at the lawyer for the Sahiwal victims’ family nor have I ever thought of this,” he said, showing his utter displeasure over the act of Mr Bukhari of recording his conversation and making it public.

“It was absolutely a private conversation of two friends and Shahbaz Bukhari breached my trust by using it for his motives,” said Dr Taimoor.

Earlier, during the media briefing, Mr Bukhari levelled serious charges of life threats to him and his clients by playing the audio recording of the call he received on his mobile phone.

“The CTD officer made a call on my cell phone, hurled threats at me and suggested that the agencies wanted me to stand down from the matter (case he was pursuing) in the wake of the Sahiwal incident,” he said.

The ‘officer’ (on other side of the call) was heard suggesting him (lawyer) to stay away from the matter, according to the audio recording. The ‘officer’ further informed the lawyer that intelligence agencies were not happy with the way the Sahiwal incident was being highlighted.

According to the audio recording, the caller said he belonged to the CTD and was giving him (the lawyer) suggestions as a brother. The ‘officer’ further conveyed to the lawyer on phone that the agencies wanted to settle the matter as enough had been highlighted pertaining to the Sahiwal incident.

“I would appeal to the higher authorities for immediate provision of security to me and the family of Khalil killed in the incident to avoid any untoward happening,” said Mr Bukhari.

In another development, Dunya News quoted Khalil’s brother Jaleel as saying that Mr Bukhari was no more their lawyer.

When contacted, the lawyer said Mr Jaleel had not contacted him personally in this regard.

Meanwhile, only two eyewitnesses turned up at the Yousafwala police station on Monday to record their statements with the JIT in the case.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2019