SC lambastes Islamabad police chief over report on Matiullah Jan kidnapping

Updated 06 Aug 2020

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Matiullah Jan was kidnapped from Islamabad in broad daylight on July 21. — Photo: Facebook/File
Matiullah Jan was kidnapped from Islamabad in broad daylight on July 21. — Photo: Facebook/File

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed displeasure at the performance of the Islamabad police and lambasted the capital city police chief for a report his department submitted regarding the abduction of senior journalist Matiullah Jan last month.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed had taken up the police report as it resumed hearing a contempt of court case against Jan, who was abducted last month by men in police uniforms from outside a school in Islamabad and released after 12 hours.

The abduction on July 21 had come just a day before the journalist was supposed to appear before the Supreme Court after it had taken suo motu notice of "contemptuous" tweets against the superior judiciary posted by Jan on his Twitter account.

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The capital police in its report had conceded that they were still waiting for replies from different departments, the assistance of which they had sought to unearth the journalist's kidnapping.

“But efforts are underway to trace the culprits involved in the incident and in this regard the reports of various departments [are] awaited to carry out further investigations,” stated the 52-page report furnished before the top court on Wednesday by the deputy inspector general (operations) on behalf of Islamabad Inspector General Amir Zulfikar Khan.

As IG Khan appeared on the rostrum during the hearing on Thursday, CJP Ahmed inquired why the police had failed to gather information in the case.

"What kind of report has been submitted?" the top judge asked while addressing the capital police chief. "IG sahib, what age are you living in [that] you are writing letters like a police babu (clerk)?"

CJP Ahmed stressed that time is of crucial importance during an investigation and evidence can be destroyed even if 10 minutes have lapsed after an incident.

He told IG Khan that he was apparently "unaware" of how investigations work. "Officers are not there to [only] warm their chairs."

Also expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of the DIG operations, the CJP directed him to "go sit in the department from which you want information".

"You can no longer just write letters. Officers have to move actively," the top judge said, ordering police to submit a detailed report regarding the abduction.

The hearing of the case was adjourned for four weeks.

In its last order issued on July 22, the three-judge SC bench had ordered recording by the relevant police station of the statement of Matiullah Jan about the kidnapping incident.

Jan was kidnapped from Islamabad in broad daylight on July 21 — a day ahead of his appearance before the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case — but was released around midnight after a hue and cry was raised by journalists, civil society members, human rights organisations and various political parties.

In its report, the Islamabad police stated that a five-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by the superintendent police (investigations) was probing the abduction incident, adding that police had soon after the kidnapping of the journalist approached the Ministry of Defence with a request to ascertain his whereabouts from the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence so that the investigation could be concluded on merits.

Besides detailing the police communication with various police stations and hospitals to gather information, the report explained that a written request was sent to the director of the Safe City Project for provision of CCTV footage of the place of occurrence, which was still under process.

It said the CCTV footage of the alleged kidnappers was also sent to the National Database and Registration Authority on July 24 for matching of the suspects or their particulars, which was still under process. It said verbal directives as well as written orders had also been issued to the SIT members to peruse the FIR and case file to ensure apprehension of the culprits involved in the crime without further delay.

The report stated that the police department and SIT members were in close contact with the victim and other relevant departments and every effort would be made to take the case to its logical end.