LAHORE: Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Zulfiqar Hameed has blamed PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, senior party leaders and charged workers for the violence outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) office on Aug 11, while it is yet to be ascertained who is responsible for creating a law and order situation.
In a ‘classified’ report sent to the Punjab government, the CCPO has used “hooliganism” for the act of PML-N leaders and workers, blaming them for the violent episode that led to scuffles, injuries to policemen as well as the NAB refusing to record the statement of Maryam Nawaz, who had appeared for the purpose.
In the report sent to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, a senior official said, the CCPO has stated that a group of senior PML-N leaders had started gathering at Jati Umra at 8am as per plan, while another had already occupied the road outside the NAB office.
Submits report to CM
At 10:45am, a procession led by Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, Najam Hashmi, Akhtar Hussain, Talal Chaudhry and Kausar Bibi comprising around 45 vehicles and 15 motorcycles departed for the NAB office and reached there at 11:50am. Prominent PML-N leaders, including Rana Sanaullah, Javed Latif, Hina Pervziz Butt, Ali Pervaiz Malik, Tahir Khalil Sindhu, Ghazali Saleem Butt, Khwaja Imran Nazir, Bilal Yasin and retired Col Mubashar Javed, along with at least 1,500 workers were already present there and had blocked the road.
In order to avoid any mishap, a heavy police contingent had been deployed, including a senior superintendent of police, a superintendent of police, five deputy superintendents of police, 10 station house officers and 471 policemen, the report stated.
Around 12:10pm, PML-N workers tried to force their way into the NAB premises. When police resisted the move, in a planned manner the workers started pelting the law enforcers with stones that they had kept in their vehicles, the report claimed. In response, a few shells of tear gas were fired by police to disperse the protesters.
“Subsequently, in the backdrop of such a violent act of hooliganism, the NAB refused to take statement of Maryam Nawaz,” the official source said while quoting the CCPO’s report.
It further said that during this incident, around 58 people were taken into custody and 15 constables injured.
On the other hand, the police community believes the CCPO’s presence to lead the operation was imperative to avoid any mishap. A senior officer, who has served on important positions in Punjab, said that a lack of field experience had been associated with CCPO Hameed who otherwise was a good officer for non-field assignments.
He said this was the second major incident where the CCPO was found absent from the spot and it was left to the SHOs and young policemen, who managed unprofessionally. Earlier, the Punjab Police had earned strong criticism and embarrassment when the CCPO was found spending most of his time at his office during the lawyers’ attack on Punjab Institute of Cardiology last year.
“Any minor injury to the former PM’s daughter in the Aug 11 incident could have drawn country-wide violent agitation from the PML-N,” he said, adding that policemen pelting stones in uniform had also brought embarrassment to the department. Under a strategy and previous practice, policemen in plainclothes and with their faces covered were used in such incidents to avoid criticism, he revealed.
Another police officer said the CCPO’s report was a confession that police did nothing to crack down before the event. Pre-event arrests of party activists usually helped in weakening the strength of the agitators, he maintained. He added that the report’s statement about the presence of a charged group of workers led by PML-N’s prominent leaders outside the NAB office was a failure of the police high command.
The officer also criticised the role of the security branch for not reporting on time the activities of the PML-N workers, leaders and their processions. Nothing was learnt from the PIC incident to avoid criticism, he lamented.
Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2020