LAHORE: PTI worker Ali Bilal, also known as Zille Shah, was laid to rest on Thursday as a high-powered fact-finding committee constituted to probe his death remained on the hunt for the two suspects who brought him to Services Hospital.
Headed by Punjab Police Elite Force DIG Sadiq Ali, the committee visited the hospital, reviewed CCTV footage and questioned medics and other staff from the hospital’s emergency department who tended to Bilal.
CCTV footage revealed that two persons brought a badly-injured Bilal to the hospital in a private 4x4 vehicle, but they subsequently disappeared after he was pronounced dead. A police source said the committee would enlist the help of the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department to get ownership details of the vehicle used by the suspects.
The postmortem report of the slain PTI worker also suggests that he was subjected to “massive blunt trauma”, while a fracture to his skull and subsequent bleeding has been cited as the cause of death. The report also noted damage to his liver, spleen and testes, which led to profuse bleeding.
According to provincial police chief Dr Usman Anwar, they would be focusing on tracking down the car and the two suspects who shifted Ali Bilal to the hospital and that safe city cameras would be used for this purpose.
Talking to Dawn, the inspector general said that a clip of Bilal in a prison van, which has been doing the rounds on social media, was an old video. However, he said that police were looking into that angle nevertheless.
“I have also directed the committee to investigate the excessive abuse of power by the police, if any,” Dr Usman said, referring to the clashes between law enforcers and PTI workers on Canal Road on Wednesday.
However, when asked to comment on another video shared by a journalist, which claims to show Bilal in a police van parked near Zaman Park on Wednesday, a police source said that they were still looking into the authenticity of the fresh clip and could not say anything for certain.
According to its ToRs, the committee is supposed to find the answers to some key questions, including what were the circumstances that led to Bilal’s death; was deceased in police custody and who took him to hospital.
The committee has also been directed to investigate the circumstances that led to the gathering of political workers near Zaman Park, the legal status of the PTI assembly, and the circumstances led to clashes between police and workers of the political party.
Funeral prayers for the slain Bilal were held at Baba Ground People House, Islampura, attended by a large number of PTI leaders and workers.
In addition, in absentia funeral prayers were also offered for the departed in various cities and towns across the country, on the call of PTI chief Imran Khan.
In Lahore, the funeral was attended by senators Ejaz Chaudhry, Waleed Iqbal and Azam Swati, as well as party’s senior leaders Omer Sarfraz Cheema, Shafqat Mahmood, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Mahmoodur Rasheed, Hammad Azhar and others.
PTI Central Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid and other women leaders also visited the slain worker’s residence to condole with his family.
In Islamabad, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the innocent and unarmed Bilal was “our hero” and vowed that his sacrifice would not be in vain.
Separately, Bilal’s father Liaqat Ali has filed an application with Race Course police to lodge a murder case.
In the complaint, Bilal’s father has nominated Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, IG Dr Usman Anwar, Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Bilal Siddique Kamyana and two inspectors, besides 40 police personnel, holding them responsible for the alleged murder of his son.
In the complaint, Mr Ali alleged that police arrested his son and brutally tortured him, which led to his death.
Interestingly, Bilal’s death is also mentioned in the FIR filed against Imran Khan and other PTI leaders and workers.
Filed on the complaint of a DSP who was injured in clashes with PTI workers near Mr Khan’s residence, this development seems to suggest that the complaint lodged by Bilal’s father may not be taken up since police usually do not register two separate cases over the same crime.
Mansoor Malik also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2023