LAHORE: The Punjab government on Saturday constituted a five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Bahawalnagar incident.

According to notification available with Dawn, Punjab Home Department special secretary was made convener of the JIT, also comprising Bahawalpur Division commissioner, Special Branch Punjab DIG, representative of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The JIT will probe into the incident of a police raid on the house of Rana Muhammad Anwar on April 8 and the subsequent events occurring on April 9 and 10.

The Punjab government and Pakistan Army on Friday pledged transparent investigations into the alleged “face-off” between police and army personnel following the arrest of a serving army official, which took the social media by storm over the Eid holidays.

Four officials of Madressah police, including the station house officer (SHO), have been arrested on charges of keeping a man and his two sons, including an army official, in illegal detention, dereliction of duty and misuse of authority.

Another policeman, the Maroot police SHO, has been suspended from service and a departmental inquiry has been initiated against him for allegedly sharing “misinformation” regarding the matter on social media.

The FIR lodged on the complaint of Inspector Saifullah Hanif with Madressah police on April 10 says that former sub inspector/SHO Rizwan Abbas, ASI Mohammad Naeem, constables Mohammad Abbas and Ali Raza arrested Mohammad Khalil, Mohammad Idrees and their father Mohammad Anwar, who were nominated in an FIR registered on April 8.

Instead of presenting the arrested men before a magistrate, the accused policemen kept them in detention at the police station for more than 24 hours.

According to police sources, the ASI and SHO raided the house of Anwar, a resident of Chak Sarkari, on April 7 for the arrest of his son Rafaqat over possession of an unlicenced pistol.

Meanwhile, Anwar’s son Khaleel, an army official, along with his brother Idrees and others, allegedly took the two policemen hostage. Soon, a video of the police officials being taken hostage was uploaded on social media.

Meanwhile, a police team reached the spot, got the SHO and ASI freed and arrested Anwar and his sons. While making arrests, police not only subjected the family members to severe torture, but also ransacked the house. A video of this episode was also shared on social media.

Later, a case was registered against 23 family members of Mohammad Anwar by the Madressah police under sections 324, 353, 379, 506B, 342, 186, 148, 149 of the PPC and the Punjab Arms Amendment Ordinance 2015.

Sources say that following an inquiry, the Bahawalnagar DPO got a case registered against the SHO, ASI and two constables, getting them arrested by the A Division police.

Two senior police officials, requesting anonymity, told Dawn that the situation turned ugly when 50-60 army personnel from the Bahawalnagar Brigade stormed the A Division police station, and severely tortured the four imprisoned policemen.

As per sources, the injured policemen have been admitted to the Bahawalnagar DHQ Hospital under a heavy security and no one was allowed to meet them.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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