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KP protests against Punjab govt

July 12, 2012

Residents and rescuers gather outside the police hostel in Lahore. — Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR, July 12: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lodged a strong protest with Punjab over what it described as its ‘unprofessional response and bureaucratic inertia’ that caused a 15-hour delay in autopsy of its nine trainee prison staff killed in a militant attack in Lahore on Thursday.

Home and Tribal Affairs Secretary Muhammad Azam Khan, in a “most immediate/high priority” letter addressed to his counterpart in Punjab, criticised the authorities concerned in Lahore for ‘lack of coordination’ and ‘extremely unprofessional’ response in registering the ‘first information report’ and initiating the process of autopsy and allied proceedings.

“It’s been 15 hours the autopsy is still under way,” Azam Khan told Dawn. “Imagine the anxiety of relatives of the slain officials. Bodies start decomposing in this excessive heat,” he said.

During the day senior officials of the Home and Tribal Affairs Department in Peshawar kept making frantic phone calls in an attempt to get the process of FIR and post-mortem expedited to ensure early dispatch of the bodies to their homes.

“We are still trying to get things moving in Lahore. This is exasperating and frustrating,” a senior official said early in the evening.

The Punjab government’s officials were not available for comments.

Azam Khan said the incident had taken place at 5.55am but the post-mortem could not be conducted because of reluctance and delay on part of the authorities concerned to lodge an FIR. This, he said, was due to lack of coordination between Lahore police and Punjab prison authorities.“The response of the authorities concerned of the Punjab government has been extremely unprofessional to say the least,” he said in the letter.

“We in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are still waiting for the initiation of the post-mortem proceedings so that the bodies of the shuhada can be brought to Peshawar for transportation to their respective districts. It may kindly be realised that the families of the martyrs are in distress and every moment of this inexplicable delay is adding to their agony,” the letter added.

The secretary demanded an inquiry into the “serious mishandling” of matters after the attack to identify loopholes causing “this bureaucratic inertia with a view to ensuring that future incidents of similar nature are handled more professionally and expeditiously”.

Mr Khan said it had taken the prison authorities and police in Lahore several hours to figure out who was going to lodge the FIR. It took another several hours to initiate post-mortem.

He also criticised the conduct of the principal of the National Academy for Prison Administration.

“His role was dubious. He was reluctant to lodge an FIR and went incommunicado,” he said.