Sindh govt assures PTI lawmakers of probe into police action against protesting nurses

Updated August 20, 2019

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The assurance was given during the Sindh Assembly session presided over by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. — Dawn/File
The assurance was given during the Sindh Assembly session presided over by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani. — Dawn/File

KARACHI: The provincial government on Monday assured opposition members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf of conducting an inquiry into a police action during last month’s protest demonstration by nurses in which PTI’s lawmakers also took part.

The assurance was given during the Sindh Assembly session presided over by Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla initially opposed a privilege motion tabled by three PTI lawmakers — Tahira Bhutto, Raja Azhar and Saeed Ahmed — in which they said their privilege was breached when police baton-charged a rally they supported.

“On July 18, we were participating in a peaceful protest of the nurses held in front of the Karachi Press Club to show support [for] their legitimate demands. As part of the protest, the movers [of privilege motion] along with the nurses were lathi-charged and water-cannoned by the Sindh Police,” said the motion.

Ms Bhutto and Mr Ahmed were not present in the house when their third colleague Mr Azhar tabled it.

Opposition, treasury join hands to felicitate Agha Siraj for becoming longest-serving speaker

He said it was the “worst form of police action” that they witnessed during the nurses’ protest. “All this has breached our privilege and action should be taken against those responsible for this.”

The chair asked the mover to substantiate his motion as per conditions given in Rule 73 of the Rules of Procedure of the Sindh Assembly.

The mover, visibly upset with the opposition by the treasury to the motion, asked the chair that such a matter in which three lawmakers were “brutalised” should not have been opposed in the first place. “The government should keep in mind the order in which we are sitting in the house now could reverse in future and then we’ll also oppose such a motion,” he said.

The chair asked the mover to substantiate his motion and directed the members to do their homework properly before occupying their seats in the house.

He then asked the mover to read out the nine sub-clauses in Rule 73 and support his argument with the sub-clauses the PTI lawmaker deemed fit.

The mover read out all clauses and said none was against his motion.

When that conversation was going on between the PTI lawmaker and the speaker, Information Minister Saeed Ghani intervened, assuring the mover that the matter would be looked into properly.

Ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sharjeel Memon agreed with the opposition’s stance that no policeman should take such an action against elected lawmakers.

In the same breath, however, Mr Memon asked the opposition members, particularly those belonging to the PTI, that they should also have taken similar action a few days ago in Islamabad.

“A few days ago, female lawmakers were humiliated at the accountability court in Islamabad. You should also support those members and condemn the action,” he said.

Minister Chawla assured the opposition that the government would order an inquiry into the incident and a report regarding the action would be presented in the house in a week.

Two held for killing Hindu trader in Sanghar

Earlier, Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh responded to a calling-attention notice presented by Grand Democratic Alliance’s Nand Kumar regarding kidnapping and murder of a Hindu trader in Sanghar.

Responding on behalf of the chief minister who also holds the portfolio of home affairs, Mr Shaikh said action had been taken and two suspects, identified as Anwar and Niaz, arrested for the crime.

Mr Kumar said a shopkeeper in Sanghar’s Jhol town was kidnapped and murdered two weeks ago. He acknowledged the arrest of the two suspects, but claimed the “real culprits” were still at large.

He said it was not a single incident as many incidents of kidnapping for ransom across the province were reported while the provincial government had failed to deliver.

Minister Shaikh said a cab driver and his brother had kidnapped the young Hindu trader and killed him after robbing of his cash and other belongings.

He claimed law and order in Sindh had tangibly improved as prompt actions were being taken by the provincial government.

He said the police were proactively investigating the recent kidnapping of singer Jigar Jalal and his crew.

PTI’s lawmakers Shahzad Awan and Shahnawaz Jadoon submitted identical calling-attention notices in which they complained about drug trafficking in their respective constituencies in Karachi’s West district.

Mr Awan claimed certain police officers were either involved in drug trade or actively patronising peddlers in his constituency while senior police officials were unable to take action against their subordinates as the latter commanded influence.

Mr Jadoon made a similar claim when he said the area police in his constituency were hands in glove with those involved in drug trade.

Minister Shaikh said a case was already filed against a head constable, who was on bail. Besides, final show-cause notices had been given to him and an assistant-sub inspector as the latter’s service was also suspended.

“We are committed to take action against such black sheep in the police and I assure you on behalf of the government that we will take action against such elements who are in cahoots with criminals,” said the minister.

Minister Chawla also assured the lawmakers about action against drug traffickers by launching a joint action by police and excise police.

‘Longest-serving speaker’

The house unanimously passed a motion in which Speaker Durrani was felicitated for becoming the “longest-serving speaker” of the Sindh Assembly since the independence of Pakistan.

“This assembly does felicitate Mr Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani on becoming the longest-serving speaker of the Sindh Assembly since the independence of Pakistan,” said the motion signed by representatives of all parties in the house and read out by GDA’s Arif Jatoi.

Speaker Durrani expressed his gratitude to the house.

Referring to his being in custody of the National Accountability Bureau, he said: “I will serve this province as my elders [father and uncle] also served while sitting in this chair.”

Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2019