LAHORE: In an unprecedented bloody anti-encroachment drive aiming at removing barriers from the house of Tahirul Qadri eight people, including two women, died while another 51 got bullet injuries in the wee hours of Tuesday here. The number of total injured is however 97.
According to the provincial administration the operation was to remove the barriers from the house of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief, Tahirul Qadri and secretariat of Minhajul Quran, a religious welfare institution run by the PAT. These barriers are installed in the area for the last three years but the government felt need of its immediate removal. Punjab Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Rana Sanaullah Khan, who used to be act as the Home Minister and takes meeting of the Law Enforcing Agencies on the behalf of the Chief Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, while talking to the mediamen said that the authorities went to remove the barriers from outside the residence of Tahirul Qadri’s house and central secretariat of Minhajul Quran after the government received information from intelligence agencies about the presence of armed men in the area.
“The private militia had made it a no go area which would not be allowed in any part of the province. The police action was inevitable as they were reports of militiamen taking oath on the holy Quran for working on some unidentified plan, he continued. Another Minister of the Punjab Government and close to Sharifs of Punjab, Rana Mashoud, however said the road blockages outside Qadri’s house were being removed on complaints filed by the residents of the area.
The Chief Minister, the Minister for Law and the IGP say they were not aware of the situation as it was brought into their notice later. The story is not that simple. Let see the set procedure of anti-encroachment drives by the City District Government, Lahore (CDGL) or the Lahore Development Authority (LDA)—the two agencies have anti-encroachment squads with sport of the special squad of the police that is led by an officer of the rank of DSP. When the agency needs any such operation it moves with the police force and intimate the Police Station concerned requesting the Station House Officer (SHO) to be prepared to move on the spot with police force if needed. If the situation goes out of control by the SHO then circle head, an officer of DSP rank who heads a circle consisting of normally two Police Stations, intervenes and calls in the force from all the police stations under his control. It never happened that the situation went out of the control of a circle incharge and divisional head, an officer of SP rank, in contacted.
The situation is different here. Look at the police officers present on the occasion, SPs of all the six divisions of the city, SP CIA, SP Headquarters, DIG Operations. Worth mentioning is here that the Divisional SPs are under the command of DIG Operations and he can call them any time. The SP CIA seldom takes part in such activities as his duty is to investigate the organized crime and he is under the command of DIG investigations. The SP Headquarter very rare comes in the field as he is to deal with the official matters in the city police office and works under the direct command of CCPO. The later mentioned two SP cannot move without the permission of CCPO. The presence of these TWO high officers indicates that the CCPO was aware of the operation.
The Police claim that the protesters initiated firing on the police and the force was left with no option but to retaliate the fire. The list of the persons injured by the police prove this claim of the police false as, according to the hospital authorities, out of 51 injured person, 49 are civilians and only two are policemen.
One can’t understand that blatant firing by the protesters could injure only two policemen while the defensive fire of the forces injured 49 people.
An eye-witness on the condition of anonymity told this scribe that there was exchange of stones from the two sides and no firing was taking place ab initio. The situation turned violent when an ‘encounter specialist’ police officer reached on the spot. Addressing the media, Chief Minister said that he was not aware of the affairs taking place short of length from his residence and he was told later. Everyone who has even very little knowledge of the working of the worthy Khadme Aala knows that he starts his day very early. His meetings with secretaries of different departments normally scheduled before starting office hours. It is also habit of the Chief Minister that he keeps an eye on the Television screen all the time and takes immediate notice of the happenings. It is really strange that he was unaware of such a lethal incident.
The IGP also showed ignorance from the happening. It is strange that the sub-ordinates do not inform their head about the worst ever political incident in the city. It is to note that the series of the events started in the wee hours of the day that resulted into killing of eight people. The dead received bullets in the front parts of their body. It is not new in Pakistan that the police had always responded with excessive force. They never, at any point, used proportionate force in terms of dealing with any protests. Police routinely struck, jabbed, and beat protesters with batons, resorts aerial firing. The Tuesday incident is not one like those as it used that level of ‘violence’ that resulted in the death of eight protesters including two women and injuring 49 by bullets. The TV footages and pictures of the spot prove that police used disproportionate force against demonstrators. This level must not be tolerated at any cost and everyone must unequivocally condemn such ‘violence’ by the Law Enforcing agencies. The Question is if the Chief Minister, the Law Minister and IGP is not aware of the incident at right time how can they justify their office.
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