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CM orders judicial probe into Sonia case

September 01, 2005

FAISALABAD, Aug 31: Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi ordered on Wednesday a judicial probe into the alleged rape of Sonia Naz, the wife of excise clerk Yousaf Kamal, by some Faisalabad police officials.

The chief minister directed the government to set up an independent judicial commission to probe the matter. He also ordered immediate transfer of SP (Investigation) Abdullah Khalid, who had allegedly patronized an SHO for raping Sonia.

The SP has been made an OSD with directions to report to the Punjab police headquarters.

Sonia alleged that SHO Jamshed Chishti raped her on the orders of the SP when she was seeking justice for her husband Asim, a clerk in the Faisalabad excise and taxation department who later came to known as a member of a criminal gang charged with registering dozens of stolen cars and other vehicles.

Meanwhile, the inquiry team constituted by Punjab IGP Ziaul Hassan began investigation. The team, headed by DIG Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, visited Faisalabad and recorded the statements of some of the police officials and the victim’s neighbour, besides taking some files and other documents into custody.

The police team asked the victim to record her statement either by appearing in person or by phone. Assuring her of protection, the police said the victim could contact them on cell No 0333-4920704.

An investigation police team of Faisalabad, in the meantime, visited the excise department and asked the staff not to record statements against the police officials before any inquiry officer.

A senior excise officer told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that the policemen had also threatened the staff members against providing details about the arrest of the department’s officials.

He claimed that Sonia’s husband Asim was arrested by the police a year ago and kept in the custody for about two hours. He was investigated and taken to his office several times in connection with recovery of files and other matters. Owing to unknown reasons, however, the police freed him along with other officials and declared them proclaimed offenders, he added.

The investigation team, instead of recording their arrest, conducted the interrogation at secret places and kept arresting and releasing them many times.

Later, the police freed Asim and other suspects after taking “illegal gratification.” Now the fleeing officials had either taken shelter in some tribal area or slipped abroad to avoid police action, he believed.

Ironically, the Faisalabad investigation police discharged six officials, including ETO Farman Masood and clerks Altaf Husain, Muhammad Nadeem, Muhammad Asif, Saeed Anwar and Yousaf Gujjar, for what it claimed “want of evidence.” Asim Yousaf, Rana Shahid, Nasarullah and Muhammad Tariq were declared proclaimed offenders and masterminds behind the scam.

The case was registered on June 4 last year against ETO Farman Masood and several other officials for registering lifted and hijacked vehicles against bogus documents. The police arrested Jawed Iqbal, Saleem Alvi, Abdul Wahid and Muhammad Arif and sent them behind bars.

Sonia had earlier charged the investigation police, including its SP Abdullah Khalid, with receiving Rs1.4 million illegal gratification. She said her husband was in police custody since October, but now the police had denied having arrested him.

Now she has accused the local police officials of raping her in the presence of SP Abdullah Khalid.

Police sources revealed that over 600 vehicles were taken into custody by the special squads comprising inspectors Jamshed Chishti, Asadur Rehman and Haq Nawaz and sub-inspector Fayyaz Ahmad Khan. All such impounded vehicles were released without entering their custody as required under section 550 of the PPC or formal registration of a criminal case and recovery under section 411 of the PPC.

More than 90 per cent of these vehicles were released by the police officials after taking hefty bribes.

The police also implicated Asim’s father Muhammad Yousaf and his two other close relatives — Suleman and Usman — in two cases. They were pursuing the cases in various courts, including the Lahore High Court, where the Sonia later moved.

DBA: The District Bar Association also has constituted a fact-finding committee to probe Sonia’s case and asked the public to provide information about the incident.

The committee, headed by senior lawyer Malik Muhammad Haneef, has been asked to prepare a report on the scandal.

INSPECTOR JAMSHED: Inspector Jamshed Chishti, who has been suspended by the IGP for allegedly raping Sonia, is said to be the blue-eyed official of SP Abdullah Khalid.

Information gleaned by this correspondent revealed that Jamshed, a BSc in agricultural entomology from the University of Agriculture, was known for extortion at the instance of SP Abdullah Khalid.

Although the FIR No 299 (against 14 excise officials) was lodged on June 22 last year under section 420, 468 and 471 of the PPC with the Civil Lines police station, the interrogation was conducted by handpicked police officials, including sub-inspector Fayyaz Ahmad Khan, inspector Asadur Rehman (close relative of Abdullah Khalid) and Inspector Jamshed Chishti, the Sargodha Road police station SHO.

According to the Police Order 2002, the investigation of this particular case cannot be entrusted to inspector Jamshed because the incident occurred outside the Sargodha Road police station precinct.

Inspector Jamshed is allegedly running a torture cell in Makuana adjacent to the Punjab Constabulary police lines. This torture cell is directly supervised by SP Abdullah Khalid where innocent people are confined for days without producing before any court for seeking illegal gratification and procuring confessional statements as desired by the SP in various cases, it is alleged.

Police sources reveal that about two dozen plainclothes men guard the torture cell round the clock and during any ‘search’ or bailiff operation, the confined people are immediately removed.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Moazzam and Hashim, who are close relatives of Sonia Naz, were also taken into custody by the police which led to institution of criminal miscellaneous No 558-H of 2004 for their recovery from SP Abdullah and inspector Jamshed’s custody. Justice Rustam Ali Malik of the Lahore High Court detailed a bailiff but he also failed to recover the detenus who were kept in the Makuana torture cell.

The two were, however, set at liberty by Jamshed Chishti after which the petition became infructuous.

Sources said at least in six cases various innocent people were recovered by the bailiffs of courts from the illegal torture cells in Madina Town, Sargodha Road, Mansoorabad and Jaranwala allegedly operated by inspector Jamshed Chishti.