Official presser deepens PTI man’s death mystery

Published March 12, 2023
The photo shows PTI worker Ali Bilal who was killed during the party’s rally on March 8. — Twitter/Aurat March
The photo shows PTI worker Ali Bilal who was killed during the party’s rally on March 8. — Twitter/Aurat March

• Caretaker CM slams Imran’s ‘false propaganda’
• Says PTI workers in custody ‘have confirmed’ fatal accident
• Yasmin rubbishes govt claim

LAHORE: The mystery surrounding the death of a worker of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday deepened further after both the PML-N-led federal coalition and Punjab’s caretaker governments came up with a claim that Ali Bilal’s death was a result of ‘road accident’ and did not occur in custody, as is being alleged by the party.

In a maiden press conference, Pun­jab caretaker chief minister Mohsin Naqvi took on PTI chief Imran Khan and his party for peddling ‘propaga­nda’ especially on social media over the death of Ali Bilal, also known as Zille Shah, ’a special child, against him and senior police officers of the province.

PTI chief Imran Khan, on the other hand, demanded the constitution of a judicial commission to ascertain the ‘true facts’ surrounding Bilal’s death.

Bilal had died on March 8 after violent clashes between police and PTI workers near Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence.

Foul play was suspected when the post-mortem examination of the body revealed that he died due to “massive blunt trauma, skull fracture, intracranial hemorrhaging and testicular injuries” with a total of 26 injury marks on his body.

Although the CM’s presser presented videos of the vehicle and the two men who brought Bilal to the Services Hospital, they could not put forth any footage in which he was hit on the road by any vehicle to substantiate their claim.

Similarly, neither the CM nor his team could offer a plausible reply when asked, if it was an accident, why Lahore police booked Imran Khan and 400 others in the murder case of Shah.

Police now confirm that Bilal was picked in a police van during the protest outside the Zaman Park and he along with other few PTI workers were set free near Fortress Stadium. Earlier, the authorities denied a video clip [saying that it from of March 8] showing Bilal and other PTI workers in a prisoner van in which Bilal was saying that PTI won’t spare those committing atrocities against its leadership.

A purported audio said to belong to PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz also surfaced on Saturday, in which a voice believed to be hers could be heard saying: “We should say sorry about the death of the PTI worker but we should give an angle that it was a result of an accident.”

On Saturday, the father of the deceased had retracted his earlier application in which he had nominated the caretaker CM and police officers after his meeting with the IGP. However, Bilal’s sister rejected the government’s claim and demanded justice for her brother’s killing.

Flanked by IGP Punjab Dr Usman Anwar, Lahore police chief Bilal Sadique Kamyana, cabinet members Dr Javed Akram and Amir Mir, CM Naqvi said: “Thorough investigation has shown that Zille Shah was killed in a road accident and not by police torture.”

He said PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid knew about this as she was informed by her party central Punjab vice president Raja Shakil that Bilal lost his life because of a road accident but she ‘misinformed’ Imran Khan , who held a press conference in which false accusations were levelled against him and police officers. The father of the deceased was offered Rs10 million by the PTI to get a case registered against the policemen, he alleged and announced financial assistance to the deceased’s family.

Mohsin Naqvi asked Imran Khan and the PTI to refrain from levelling false allegations against him and police officers and misleading the people.

Mr Naqvi appeared quite angry over the social media campaign against him and his family, saying he could have given a befitting reply to them (Mr Khan and PTI) had he not been in this position.

“I will quit but not come under any pressure. I will not bow down to any threats and tweets,” he declared, adding this was a “very sensitive time” as elections were to be held on April 30.

To a question why his government imposed Section 144 to stop the PTI rally, he said: “The Lahore High Court had given permission for the Aurat March the same day and the level of threat alert was highly intense and for that reason Section 144 was imposed.”

As Mr Naqvi left the presser, IGP Dr Anwar responded to media queries. “Mr Shah was brought to the Services Hospital on March 8 at 6:52pm in a Vigo vehicle which was traced with the help of CCTV cameras. There were also traces of blood of the deceased youth in the vehicle. This was an accident and the death was not caused due to police torture,” the IGP said and added all CDRs (call data recordings) were available with him as Shakil’s driver Jahanzeb and his guard Omar brought the deceased to the Services Hospital and the owner of the vehicle was Shakil. Both Jahanzab and Omar were arrested and would be tried after the institution of a new FIR, Dr Anwar said.

Attaullah Tarar, the prime minister’s special assistant on accountability also held a presser here and tried to prove the provincial government’s claim that Bilal died of road accident and PTI was ‘doing politics’ on it.

In a video statement, Jahanzeb said the vehicle he was driving hit Bilal and then he and Omar took him first to the CMH and then the Services Hospital. He said he told Raja Shakil about this. It could not be confirmed whether Shakil is in police custody or has gone underground.

Yasmin Rashid rubbished the claim of the caretaker CM that she knew that Shah was hit by the vehicle of her party leader Shakil. “On March 8 rally, I remained stuck on the canal where police smashed my car. About the death of Shah, I came to know later that evening. Shakil, who has his own security company, told me that his Vigo vehicle (was taken by someone) and put his (Bilal’s) body near Mian Mir. I called the Services Hospital medical superintendent who told me that Bilal was received dead,” she said and pinpointed Shah’s testicular injury which was enough to belie the government’s claim. “As a doctor I wonder how he had an injury to his genitals in an accident,” she asked.

Dr Rashid said the statements from driver and guard might have been extracted by torture.

PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry said there was a blood at the hands of Mohsin Naqvi. “Those sitting with Naqvi today in a presser will become approver against him once this government’s term expires,” he said and lambasted the entire government machinery to cover this cold blood murder. He said the PTI demanded a judicial probe into the matter so that the family of Bilal could get justice.

PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi said Mohsin Naqvi and the IGP were on the top in suspects list. “Those found guilty should be hanged after the judicial inquiry,” Elahi demanded.

Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2023

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