LAHORE: Six defence witnesses on Saturday told an anti-terrorism court (ATC) that the armed workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had opened fire at the officials of police and district administration during an alleged 2014 anti-encroachment operation outside the residence of Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town.

The witnesses, who also reside near Idara Minhajul Quran in Model Town, include Khwaja Sohail, Waqas Ahmed Qureshi, Malik Saleem, Yasmin Mukhtar Ahmed, Ghulam Shabbir, and Imran Hussain.

They recorded their statements in a private complaint filed by the PAT for the trial of police officials in the Model Town firing incident.

Advocate Burhan Muazzam Malik, the counsel for the police officials, presented the witnesses before the court.

The witnesses said they observed the whole incident since their residences were around 500 meters away from the secretariat of Idara Minhajul Quran.

They said the workers of the PAT fired from the rooftops and threw petrol bombs on the officials of police and the district administration, who ran to save their lives.

The witnesses said the police later fired tear gas shells at the PAT workers but did not shoot at them. They said the police were removing the barricades placed on roads by the PAT workers.

Judge Arshad Javed adjourned further hearing till June 28.

The judge directed the PAT counsel to cross-examine the defence witnesses at the next hearing.

The judge also summoned DSP Rana Mahmoodul Hassan, ASI Aqeel Ahmed, constables Faisal Rashid and Amir Hassan as witnesses.

So far, a total of 104 witnesses have recorded their testimonies in the Model Town incident trial.

At least 10 people were killed and around 100 injured during an anti-encroachment operation outside the Model Town residence of PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri on June 17, 2014.

Idara Minhajul Quran, a subsidiary of PAT, had filed the private complaint before the ATC against the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, sitting PM Shehbaz Sharif and almost all federal and provincial cabinets of PML-N besides officials of police and district administration accusing them of killing its workers.

However, the trial court in 2017 dismissed the complaint to the extent of political personalities and started trial proceedings against the officials of police and district administration nominated as accused by the complainant.

The previous government in Punjab led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had constituted a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to reinvestigate the incident. However, several accused police officials challenged the JIT before the LHC and got it stayed in 2019.

Former inspector general Mushtaq Sukhera, former DIG operations Rana Abdul Jabbar, former commissioner retired Capt Muhammad Usman and two other accused persons have been acquitted in the trial.

PAT: In a statement, PAT legal spokesperson Naeemuddin Chaudhry appealed to the Lahore High Court to issue orders for an expedited decision on the pending petitions regarding the JIT cases of the Model Town incident.

He pointed out that the JIT, formed on the Supreme Court’s orders, had been barred from functioning by the LHC for the past four years. He questioned how justice could be achieved without an impartial investigation.

He stated that the Model Town incident was unique in the country’s history, with 14 citizens killed, yet the statements of the victims’ families, the injured, and eyewitnesses had not been recorded.

He alleged that a fake charge-sheet had been prepared by using police touts as witnesses.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.
Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...