PTI worker’s death termed road accident, Punjab IG refutes torture allegations

Published March 11, 2023
<p>Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Punjab Inspector General Usman Anwar (R) and a third official in a press conference on Saturday.-DawnNewsTV</p>

Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi, Punjab Inspector General Usman Anwar (R) and a third official in a press conference on Saturday.-DawnNewsTV

Punjab Inspector General Dr Usman Anwar on Saturday rejected allegations levelled by the PTI blaming the provincial administration for the alleged custodial killing of a party worker, insisting the incident was purely a road “accident case” which, he said, was “unfortunately misinterpreted” publicly.

A PTI worker, Ali Bilal, also known as Zillay Shah, died, several others were injured and many picked up on March 8 as the caretaker Punjab government used force to block a rally called to launch the party’s campaign for the April 30 elections in the province.

On Friday, police claimed to have arrested two suspects, identified as Umar and Jehanzeb, who claimed that Bilal sustained multiple injuries after he was involved in an accident with their car. Dawn quoted sources as saying that the two claimed the accident occurred in Fortress Stadium, where Bilal was present along with five other friends, probably PTI workers.

The party leadership claims he was tortured and killed while in police custody. The claims of torture have been corroborated by Bilal’s postmortem report, issued by the Mayo Hospital. It said the victim 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.

In a press conference in Lahore today, the senior cop along with caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi denied the involvement of provincial administration in the incident.

“The evidence clearly indicate that this is an accident case. None of the accused in this case tried to kill and blame it on the police,” the IG said.

Narrating the incident, the police official said “the body of an innocent man was brought to Services Hospital by a black Vigo at 6:52pm [on Wednesday].”

He said the suspects “clearly looked tense” as seen in CCTV footage.

“They also tried to save the victim at one point and then transport him to the hospital. Then the manner in which the incident was misinterpreted was quite unfortunate,” the senior cop explained.

He said the owner of the vehicle had been identified as Raja Shakeel, who is vice president of the PTI in Central Punjab.

“He had no intention to kill the worker, but this is where the problem started from.”

Dr. Anwar said the conspiracy was foiled by technical teams of the police probing the case. “We got all evidences and details of phone calls made by political leaders to different people.”

The IG insisted that people aboard the car were not criminals as, according to him, they tried to save the man after hitting him. However, false videos and messages were posted on social media to portray police and the administration in a bad light.

The Punjab IG said the car involved in the accident was traced through 31 CCTV cameras.

The caretaker CM also called out the PTI for alleging the police and the administration’s involvement in the incident.

The chief minister lamented that PTI’s Yasmin Rashid proceeded with a press conference targeting police and administration despite knowing the facts.

“Those who were on the vehicle told everything to Rashid, but they [PTI] kept on blaming the provincial administration,” the CM said.

He went on to claim that the victim’s father was also offered money to back the false narrative behind the death.

“We are not barring you from politics but you should refrain from levelling baseless allegations on us,” Naqvi said.

Naqvi said he would have answered the accusations “in a different manner” had he not been in CM’s position. “It is my responsibility to bear such attacks with restraint but threatening to file a first information report with murder charges totally on the basis of assumptions is too much.”

“I will not surrender. I will prefer going home but will not give in,” the CM added.

He also categorically denied that the police were given any directives to torture workers of a particular party.

Naqvi said the IG would himself visit the victim’s father, adding that the Punjab government would also extend financial assistance to the heirs which it usually does.

“They (the PTI) did a great injustice to me and the police administration. This should not have happened,” the provincial chief executive said.

He noted that it was a blind case and commended Punjab police for their efforts in tracing the suspects.

Commenting on an audio circulating on social media in connection to the incident, Naqvi said the clip did not even need a verification as the veracity of the audio was clearly questionable.

He also took exception to the PTI for its decision to take out a rally on a day when other public gatherings related to Aurat March and other marches taking place in the Punjab capital.

Naqvi said elections in the province were approaching near, adding any deterioration in law and order would hamper peace in the province.

During the press briefing, confessional video statements of the two suspects, who are currently under police custody, were also played.

PTI castigates CM Naqvi for ‘creating false narrative’

Reacting to the press conference, the PTI leadership castigated Naqvi for allegedly creating a false narrative and stuck to its previous stance, insisting that Bilal died of custodial torture.

Referring to the caretaker chief minister and the IGP, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said: “In any civilised country, these two shameless people would have been jailed not just for lying so blatantly but [also] for insulting the intelligence of our nation.”

“This is what happens when the country is taken over by dangerous duffers who believe everyone is as dumb as them,” he added.

Addressing a press conference today afternoon, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry announced that the party would be approaching Lahore High Court to ask for a judicial commission to be constituted for conducting an independent investigation of the case.

Remembering Bilal, Fawad recalled that he was a “special child” who had been affiliated with Imran Khan since 1992 when he was part of a fund-gathering drive for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust.

 Fawad Chaudhry in a press conference.-DawnNewsTV He added that when PTI was formed, Bilal was a “part of the PTI’s body and life”.

The PTI leader also had pictures from the post-mortem printed with him. Fawad said the marks on injuries were clearly on Bilal’s hands and wrists, which he said were places where he would have been hit while protecting himself from sticks by raising his arm.

He also said the cases of custodial torture would not be occurring in Pakistan today had the courts taken notice of the alleged custodial torture of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill.

PTI leader Yasmin Rashid shared a clip of her speaking on BOL News today in which she emphasises the findings of the post-mortem report to insist that Bilal was tortured.

“The biggest thing is that they have abused his sensitive organs. Let me tell you that it can also cause a cardiogenic shock as it is a very sensitive area and there are many pain impulses,” she said.

Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari tweeted: “Your job is to conduct elections within 90 days and return home but you are busy digging the graves of law and democracy by [committing] the worst violations of constitutional rights in the province on the instructions of your guardians.”

“Remember that the nation will take full account from you of the innocent Zille Shah’s murder along with every incident of insolence and violation of the Constitution,” she said in an indirect reference to the chief minister.

In a separate tweet, Mazari shared a video clip of the press conference where Naqvi is talking about the government’s plan related to arrests.

“Mohsin Naqvi admits he had a plan to arrest workers regardless. He is proving to be quite the criminal like his masters,” Mazari said.

PTI leader Hammad Azhar asserted that Bilal’s “post-mortem report and the case registered by the police against Imran Khan and his allies for murder allegations was the biggest evidence of the caretaker chief minister’s lie”.

He termed the sequence of events presented by Naqvi “an attempt for a third cover-up”.

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