Police in Gujranwala on Tuesday made 14 arrests in connection with mob lynching of a scrap dealer on suspicions of him being a motorcycle thief.
The first information report (FIR) of the incident, which identified the victim as Mohammad Ashraf, was registered on the complaint of his brother Shaukat Ali at Aroop police station under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly) and 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The FIR said that at around 1:30pm on Monday, Ashraf, who is a scrap vendor, was riding his motorcycle near Pindi Bypass on GT Road when he ran out of fuel and resorted to trudging his vehicle on foot.
Ali said that he and two others were also on their motorcycles when Ashraf left for Admore petrol pump for refuelling. He continued: "As he reached the pump, screaming and shouting began so I and my companions immediately reached the vicinity of the petrol pump and saw that Ashraf was tied up to a Mazda car" and being beaten by a man identified as Waqas Abbas.
The deceased's brother alleged that another man named Mukhtar Ahmed was holding on to Ashraf while he was being beaten and they later move him to an office. The FIR stated that another man identified as Asad tortured Ashraf inside the office while Aqeel Ahmed brought a rope to tie his hands.
It said there were four to five unknown people around who were punching and kicking Ashraf. Ali said the suspects fled the scene when a police mobile approached. Ashraf was later taken to Gujranwala District Headquarters Hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries.
"This was sheer injustice," the complainant said as he requested the initiation of legal proceedings against the suspects.
Meanwhile, Punjab police said the perpetrators of the incident will be punished as "no citizen is allowed to take the law into their own hands."
A statement from Gujranwala police spokesperson quoted CPO Syed Hamad Abid as saying that raids were being conducted to make more arrests.
The statement said that three police personnel, including Assistant Sub-inspector Waheedullah, were also fired for "negligence and carelessness" and a case was registered against them.
"Providing justice without any discrimination is the first priority of the district police. No one will be allowed to take the law into their own hands, and law-breaking elements will be dealt with iron hands," CPO Abid said.
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Rao Sardar Ali Khan also took notice of the incident and sought a report. He directed CPO Abid to conduct an inquiry and said that strict legal action should be taken against those involved in the violence.
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz also took notice of the incident. He summoned a report from the IGP and ordered a comprehensive inquiry.