Salahuddin’s death in custody: SP holding DPO charge was transferred for ‘influencing probe’

Updated September 16, 2019

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SP Investigation Habibullah Khan was given additional charge of Rahim Yar Khan district police officer around a week back when the DPO, Umar Salamat, was made an OSD over the custodial death of Salahuddin whose footage of mocking the CCTV camera in an ATM cabin in Faisalabad had gone viral on social media a couple of day earlier. — YouTube screengrab/File
SP Investigation Habibullah Khan was given additional charge of Rahim Yar Khan district police officer around a week back when the DPO, Umar Salamat, was made an OSD over the custodial death of Salahuddin whose footage of mocking the CCTV camera in an ATM cabin in Faisalabad had gone viral on social media a couple of day earlier. — YouTube screengrab/File

LAHORE: The Superintendent of Police, Habibullah Khan, who was holding additional charge of Rahim Yar Khan district police officer after removal of DPO Umer Salamat over custodial death of an alleged ATM robber, Salahuddin, was transferred for allegedly influencing the case probe after the victim’s father complained to the Punjab chief minister in this regard.

SP Investigation Habibullah Khan was given additional charge of Rahim Yar Khan district police officer around a week back when the DPO, Umar Salamat, was made an OSD over the custodial death of Salahuddin whose footage of mocking the CCTV camera in an ATM cabin in Faisalabad had gone viral on social media a couple of day earlier. It also showed him breaking the ATM and pulling out a card from it.

Salahuddin, apparently suffering from mental issues, was later arrested by RY Khan police, alleging he was also wanted in other cases of similar nature. The police later announced he died in custody of some “natural cause”, but pictures of his dead body that circulated on social media showed marks on it, alleging brutal police torture in custody.

The incident caused much embarrassment to Punjab police as well as the PTI-led provincial government that had come into power promising ‘change’.

According to an official who sought anonymity, the family of Salahuddin, including his father Mohammad Afzal, during a meeting with Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in Lahore had complained that Mr Habib (who was then holding additional charge of Rahim Yar Khan DPO) in the capacity of investigation SP, had been giving undue favours to the police officials nominated in the custodial death case.

Afzal also told the CM that his family was not expecting justice as long as Mr Habibullah was head of investigation team and held the DPO charge, demanding the officer’s removal from the posts to ensure merit in the ongoing probe into the case.

After the meeting, the official said, Mr Buzdar called the provincial police chief and informed him about the serious reservations expressed by Salahuddin’s family regarding Mr Habibullah.

Mr Buzdar directed IG retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan to take appropriate action to ensure a fair trial of the case in the court of law.

After detailed deliberations, he said, the IG issued orders for removal of Mr Habibullah from the both positions (acting DPO and investigation SP) late on Saturday.

Earlier, Rahim Yar Khan city Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Abbas Akhtar was suspended from service for alleged misconduct/inefficiency in handling the case of custodial death of Salahuddin.

Afzaal had lodged a case against three police officials cover his son’s death in custody. The FIR was registered under sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The suspects included City A-Division SHO Mehmoodul Hassan and investigation officers Sub-Inspector Shafaat Ali and Assistant Sub-Inspector Matloob Hussain. Other policemen who were on duty when Salahuddin died were also named.

Meanwhile, Regional Investigation Police Officer Akram Khan Niazi has been given additional charge of the RY Khan DPO.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2019