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Lal Masjid operation: Police told to probe complaints

May 26, 2012

ISLAMABAD, May 25: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Islamabad police to register cases and commence investigations into the complaints of the heirs of 103 persons missing since the 2007 military operation against Lal Masjid.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, that had taken up a number of cases relating to Lal Masjid incident, also cautioned the police to be careful while recording FIR and not to involve and scandalise the institutions unnecessarily.

The order came when the court learnt that the parents of the students who went missing during the standoff were still unaware of the whereabouts of their children.

The Lal Masjid standoff started when female students of its Jamia Hafsa occupied the adjacent children’s library on January 22, 2007, to protest against the razing of seven mosques in the capital city. On July 3, several people were killed during clashes between security forces and students in the mosque.

On Friday, the police informed the court that they had not yet initiated any probe to determine the status of those killed during the confrontation — a requirement that would help  determine compensation.

“Since there is no such base to deny compensation to the deceased, we cannot deny the same right to them,” Justice Khawaja observed though no final order was made. However, the judge added that those killed during the operation seemed to be innocent since the police have no evidence or any criminal record against them.

Deputy Attorney General Babar Ali informed the court that 11 security forces personnel and three passersby were killed along with 89 militants who were in a “state of war with the armed forces”.

The chief justice asked the DAG: “How can they be identified as militants or in a state of war,” adding: “Have you recorded the statements of the legal heirs of the deceased?”

When Mr Ali argued that the heirs of those who were waging a war against the state could not be compensated, the chief justice asked him not to use the term ‘waging war against the state’ for such small issues.

“What do you mean, if today a mob comes here and stages a protest for their demands, would it mean that they are waging a war against the state,” the chief justice said.

Additional Inspector General Islamabad police Tahir Alam Khan said when the incident took place Shahid Nadeem Baloch was the acting IGP Islamabad and had also given some undertaking before the court though the directions were not implemented. The court summoned Mr Baloch to appear before the court after two weeks to clear his position.

The court also ordered the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances to submit a report to the registrar about the missing persons recovered so far.

Meanwhile, the court also approved a deal between Lal Masjid chief cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz and the Islamabad administration on the allocation of 20 kanals in H-11/4 for the reconstruction of Jamia Hafsa.