RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government is making all-out efforts to provide relief to Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill — former prime minister Imran Khan’s chief of staff — who is in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi in a sedition case.

The authorities concerned moved Mr Gill to the jail hospital amid reports of alleged torture and reportedly further efforts were being made to transfer Mr Gill to a government medical facility in Rawalpindi.

Meanwhile, the provincial government transferred Rawal­­pindi jail superintendent Chau­dhry Asghar Ali, and also sent provincial prison minister Muhammad Hashim Dogar to meet the PTI leader to reassure him.

The transfer of Superi­ntendent Asghar Ali came after Mr Dogar tweeted that he had “recommended” the removal of the jail officials for “keeping Shahbaz Gill in a special cell (chakki)” on his first night in the prison. “Such treatment is not being meted out to any prisoner. I recommended removal of DIG and Jail Superintendent from the post to the competent authority,” he said in a tweet.

Punjab home minister says no need for medical test as ‘Gill was not tortured’

There were reports of the transfer of DIG Prison Rawalpindi region Abdul Rauf Rana as well. However, they could not be confirmed by the time this report went to press.

‘Gill not tortured’

But before he tweeted about his recommendation for the removal of the jail high-ups, the home minister ruled out any torture by the jail staff and said that he would brief the PTI chair­man about the “reality” in detail.

He told reporters that Mr Gill was not “tortured and that there was no need to conduct his medical examination”. “Shehbaz Gill is perfect and healthy inside the prisons and he would himself issue a statement about his physical fitness soon after release from the jail,” he said, adding that there was no need of producing Mr Gill before a medical board as he “was never tortured”.

“I am a responsible man and satisfying Imran Khan that [his aide] Gill was not placed under torture in jail is my responsibility,” he vowed. He said a deta­iled report would also be submitted to Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and Imran Khan in this regard. He said that Mr Gill was the accused of the federation and the provincial prisons department had no authority to extend or reduce his punishment.

On the other hand, PTI’s seven-member parliamentary delegation expressed serious concern over the alleged police torture on the detained PTI leader.

Case sent back to sessions judge

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) observed that the custody of Shahbaz Gill might be given to the police if required and directed the sessions court to decide the government’s plea filed against the rejection of the physical remand of Shahbaz Gill.

Subsequently, the additional district and sessions judge, Zeba Chaudhry, took up the criminal revision related to the physical remand of Mr Gill and issued notice to Mr Gill for Wednesday (today) and adjourned the hearing. The court was told under the criminal procedure code the custody of the accused could be handed over to the police for a fortnight, whereas, the court, in this case, granted physical remand for 2 days only. And in order to reach any conclusion, the investigators need to examine different aspects.

Separately, IHC Justice Farooq issued notices to the police and prosecution on the petition seeking to quash FIR against Mr Gill. Justice Farooq asked the counsel to argue the maintainability of the petition.

Malik Asad in Islamabad also contributed to this story

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2022

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