LAHORE, March 14: The Punjab government on Thursday removed Capital City Police Officer Amjad Javed Saleemi in connection with the Joseph Colony arson attack and appointed Sargodha RPO Muhammad Amlish as new city police chief.

However, the government didn’t appoint new Sargodha police chief as police sources claimed the new posting would be made by the interim government.

Sources told Dawn that Mr Saleemi had to face ‘abrupt’ transfer only after 35 days of his posting as Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government had been feeling embarrassment in the Supreme Court that took suo motu notice of the arson attack on Christians. The court blamed both the provincial government as well as city police managers for poor handling of the issue.

Sources said the government would try to get a bit relief from pressure exerted by the SC in March 18 hearing of the case by mentioning removal of top police chief, four others and arrests of accused attackers. They said blasphemy complainant Imran Shahid was still at large.

Earlier, the chief minister had made SSP (Operations) Sohail Akhtar Sukhera and City SP (Operations) Multan Khan OSDs and suspended the Badami Bagh circle DSP as well as the SHO from service.

Mr Saleemi, who had got two key postings - Sahiwal and Sargodha RPOs - before being appointed as CCPO in the current PML-N tenure in Punjab, has been posted DIG (Establishment) at the Central Police Office (Punjab), Lahore, against an existing vacancy.

According to police record, Mr Saleemi has been removed ‘unceremoniously’ from field position for third time. Earlier, he was removed from Sialkot DPO slot in connection with Sialkot district jail killings of judges and prisoners in 2003 and later from DIG (Operations) Lahore office after the terror attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

Mr Amlish was too posted Sargodha RPO the day Mr Saleemi was appointed Lahore CCPO on Feb 7.

Police circles are considering the new posting temporary because of the interim set-up.

A Lahore police officer, who wished not to be named, said the chief minister had once again made a senior police officer ‘scapegoat’ in order to save the government’s skin.

He wondered if things would improve on part of the police by changing only police officers.

He said the government had to appoint new CCPO suddenly to avoid SC ‘wrath’ because the bench also took notice of the non-appointment of a regular IGP in Punjab.

Meanwhile, a good number of field officers heaved a sigh of relief after the transfer of the CCPO who launched aggressive policing by engaging officers in special field assignment from 6am to 9am and launched campaigns against non-registered motorcycles and beggars.

According to divisional SP, Mr Saleemi engaged all SSPs and SPs in field duties starting from 6am during his tenure which irked officers.

NO ARRESTS: Police have made no further arrests in connection with the arson attack and the number stands at 54.

A source at the Central Police Office said no fresh arrests were reported by the Lahore police and it was likely that senior officers would submit the same record to the SC on March 18.

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