LAHORE: The investigation into a raid at a popular restaurant on M.M. Alam Road in September has held three of its waiters guilty.

Police concluded the case by holding three waiters responsible after a joint raid was conducted by the excise department and police at Café Aylanto’s M.M. Alam Road branch on Sept 7.

The incident had also led to the removal of the then Gulberg circle ASP Abdul Wahab and excise and taxation officer Masood Bashir Warraich. Later, it transpired these officers had committed no violation and their transfers were politically motivated.

“The investigation into the case lodged against Café Aylanto for selling alcohol illegally has been concluded and police only found three waiters guilty of the charges,” investigation officer (IO) Muhammad Zulqernain told Dawn, adding that police had submitted the investigation report to the court for further proceeding.

He refused to share details when asked why the waiters were held guilty as they were only doing their job and had nothing to do with the sale and purchase of liquor at the restaurant.

The high-end Cafe Aylanto was sealed on Sept 7 after Model Town Assistant Commissioner Zeeshan Ranjha carried out a raid along with excise officer Masood Warraich and Model Town Superintendent of Police Malik Ahmad Imran. They had taken into custody 13 staff members of the café, seized several bottles of liquor and lodged a criminal case against the outlet’s administration.

The incident became controversial when the Punjab government removed former ASP Wahab and excise officer Warraich without holding inquiries. Particularly, the matter of Mr Wahab’s removal led to criticism when the then Punjab police chief not only removed him, but also surrendered his services to Islamabad.

A source said that many in police circles believed that someone in Islamabad’s power corridors took up the matter, ensuring the officer’s ouster from Punjab knowing that he had committed no mistake.

“The mystery behind the removal of the ASP and excise officer is yet to unfold as neither they were found involved in any violation nor held guilty in any inquiry,” he said.

The case was lodged against the café on an application submitted by excise inspector Akhtar Zaman Sindhu. Before taking action against the ASP, an impression was created that the contents of the first information report (FIR) were changed in favour of the café owner.

However, during the investigation, the allegations were proved false as the contents of the application and the FIR appeared the same, the source added.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2019