Man sets himself on fire in front of Punjab CM’s complaint cell
* Mehmood Akhtar sought financial help from provincial government only to be humiliated, beaten up
* Faisalabad DCO ignored Mehmood’s requests for help
* Nawaz calls for high-level inquiry into reasons for Mehmood’s actions
LAHORE: Homeless and in need of shelter, Mehmood Akhtar (50) sought help from his government, only to be humiliated and physically assaulted by security personnel. This is what led him to the Punjab CM’s complaint cell in Model Town on Friday, where, in front of dozens of witnesses and security officials, he doused himself with petrol and set fire to himself.
A resident of House No 685/B near Shaheen Chowk, Ghulam Muhammad Abad, Faisalabad, Mehmood was a hairdresser by profession and had earlier migrated to Nazimabad, Karachi – only to return to Punjab in the hope that the provincial government would help him in his hour of need. According to police sources, Mehmood had visited the CM’s office at 7-Club Road a few weeks earlier and had filed an application in which he outlined his poor financial situation and requested financial assistance and a house for his four daughters.
Ignored: “Later, the application was forwarded to the Faisalabad DCO for action, who proceeded to ignore the requests of the applicant. Mehmood paid several visits to the DCO’s office, but was not given an answer to his application,” the sources said.
An official at the Faisalabad DCO’s office, requesting anonymity, said, “Yes, we received an application and forwarded it to the EDO (Revenue) for action… however, the EDO replied that there was no government policy that could address the applicant’s demands and that only the CM, at his own discretion, could facilitate such cases. The DCO then returned the case to the CM’s complaint cell with his comments.”
Disappointed and dejected, Mehmood on Friday visited the CM’s complaint cell in Model Town, where security personnel, deputed to keep an eye out for terrorist elements, slapped and humiliated him, sources said, adding that Mehmood left the office, only to return after a few minutes with Kerosene oil. “He then proceeded to set himself on fire in front of the CM’s complaint cell,” the sources added. Mehmood was later rushed to the Mayo Hospital, where doctors in the Burn Unit pronounced him dead.
Inquiry: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif expressed his condolences over the incident and directed the Punjab government to hold a high-level inquiry to probe the reasons that had led Mehmood to take his life. In his message from London, Nawaz said the provincial government would facilitate Mehmood’s family. DCO Faisalabad Saeed Wahla was not available for comment, while his subordinate Munir Ahmed claimed that he was not aware of the case since he had been away to Sargodha. staff report