Capital police prevail in tug of war over Shahbaz Gill’s custody

Published August 18, 2022
Capital police personnel shift Dr Shahbaz Gill to Pims after obtaining his custody on Wednesday.—Mohammad Asim
Capital police personnel shift Dr Shahbaz Gill to Pims after obtaining his custody on Wednesday.—Mohammad Asim

• Rawalpindi and Islamabad police come face to face outside Adiala Jail
• Court grants Islamabad police two-day physical remand
• Faisal Javed declares Gill’s words ‘a blunder’ in Senate

RAWALPINDI: After a two-hour long stand-off with Rawalpindi police, the capital’s police force finally managed to get the custody of PTI leader Dr Shahbaz Gill and moved him to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Wednesday night.

Later, Pims set up a five-member board to examine Mr Gill’s condition.

A judicial magistrate had granted a two-day physical remand of Mr Gill and ordered the Islamabad police to conduct a medical examination.

However, Mr Gill, who was booked in a sedition case, was being held at Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Punjab government.

In a bid to thwart the handover, arrangements were made to move Mr Gill to Raw­a­l­pindi District Head­quarters (DHQ) Hospital after he complained of breathing trouble, even though jail authorities were convinced that they had the facilities to treat Mr Gill.

Sources said a police party, led by Rawalpindi City Police Officer Syed Shahzad Nadeem Bukhari, reached the prison to comply with Punjab home department’s orders to shift Mr Gill to DHQ hospital.

On the other side, a team of Islamabad police, led by the SSP Operations, remained outside the jail to take him into custody.

As the stand-off intensified, the interior ministry mulled calling Rangers to force the handover, per unconfirmed reports. However, no such movement was witnessed on the ground.

Earlier in the day, an Islamabad sessions judge sent Mr Gill on a two-day physical remand upon the request of Islamabad police.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry accepted the application filed by the Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon.

Special Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi pleaded that the remand was needed for further investigation and to collect the evidence. He argued that police have nominated Mr Gill in an FIR and his specific role in the case has been identified.

The recovery of his mobile phone was imperative to identify the ‘co conspirators’ and ‘those who wrote the script’, the prosecutor argued.

After hearing the arguments, ADSJ Chaudhry, while giving him into police custody for 48 hours, ordered them to get Mr Gill medically examined forthwith.

She also directed police to produce him before a judicial magistrate after the expiry of the two-day remand.

Mr Gill’s counsel had opposed the handover to the police and subsequently challenged the remand order.

After the court’s order, PTI Chairman Imran Khan took to Twitter to express his concerns over the move to send Mr Gill into police remand for the second time.

A tweet posted on the former prime minister’s official account said: “Very concerned about Shahbaz Gill being sent into police remand again. He is in a fragile state of mental & physical health because of the torture inflicted on him when he was abducted & taken to undisclosed location & then again at the police station.”

Mr Khan added that this was part of a conspiracy to target him and the PTI through a false confession, obtained through coercion.

While calling the action “absolutely unacceptable” Mr Khan vowed to take “all legal and political actions” to counter the alleged torture on Mr Gill and the “unconstitutional and illegal actions” agains the party leaders.

PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry also reacted strongly to the order and said that judges were sending political workers into police remand to be tortured.

Also on Wednesday, PTI Senator Faisal Javed Khan conceded on the floor of the Senate that Mr Gill’s remarks against the armed forces were “a blunder”.

Speaking in the upper house, Mr Javed, who is believed to be a close confidant of Imran Khan, said the party leader’s chief of staff should not have made these remarks.

“Shahbaz Gill should be acted against and legal proceedings should take place because such statements cannot be acceptable.” he remarked.

However, he stressed that a fair trial should be held and condemned the alleged torture against Mr Gill. He also called applying the law uniformly, pointing out that leaders from the opposition had made much harsher remarks against state institutions. “They should also be brought to the dock,” he remarked.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Dr Shahzad Wasim also accused the government of demonstrating the worst kind of fascism and committing blatant human rights violations. He said a fair trial was the right of every citizen under the Constitution. He alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched to create a gulf between PTI and Pakistan Army.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2022

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