Probe in Sialkot killings points finger at PML-N govt -by Irshad Salim

The ongoing investigation of the Sialkot brothers’ lynching in front of Rescue 1122 office has revealed that some police officials being named in the incident are not only pro- Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), but that their role was a contributing factor in the enactment of the gory incident on August 15. These influential law enforcement officers are DPO Sialkot Chauhan, SHO Rana Ilyas, and Zulfiqar Ahmed Cheema, who at that time was the deputy inspector general (DIG) of Gujranwala.

Zulfiqar Ahmed Cheema is the younger brother of Justice (r) Iftikhar Cheema, the current PML-N MNA from the area.

Sialkot DPO Waqar Chauhan is the member of an influential family and SHO Rana Ilyas has strong ties with the local PML-N leadership, published reports said.

Sources in the joint investigation team (JIT) that is probing the lynching of Butt brothers disclosed to Daily Times that almost every police official involved directly or indirectly in the incident “has no fear of higher-ups due to their strong links” with PML-N lawmakers.

The Joint Investigating Team reportedly consists of members assigned to the case from the FIA, MI and ISI.

There is deep concern in the Punjab bureaucracy that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s habit of directly interfering in its working particularly in the Police Department may have contributed to the incident.

Hafiz Imran – the reporter from Dunya News, who did the scoop on Sialkot brothers’ lynching, echoed similar views on Tonight With Najam Sethi on Aug 26. Imran has been threatened with dire consequences for doing the scoop, it was revealed on the talk show.

Sharif is said to have time and again congratulated Gujranwala DIG Cheema on police encounters, it has emerged. Most of these encounters were fake and staged in and around Gujranwala, said Imran. The “fake encounters culture” obviously traveled from Gujranwala to Sialkot over the years with higher-ups’ tacit support and approval, said one analyst. Sharif’s legacy for such chicaneries go back to his first era as CM Punjab, it is well known.

A survey of the Sialkot neighborhood by Daily Times has revealed that some citizens directly blame Shahbaz Sharif for the lynching incident on August 15, saying his policy of permitting extra-judicial killings by police caused it.

According to some interviewed by the Lahore-based influential paper, the incidents of fake police encounters started taking place in the area during the first tenure of Shahbaz Sharif as chief minister, which encouraged the culture of ‘vigilante justice’. Then, during the two and a half years of Chauhan’s captaincy in Gujranwala, the number of these extra-judicial killings touched new heights.

Chauhan, according to some observers, was Sharif’s blue-eyed boy until they fell-out on or about August 5 on the eve of the bye-elections which saw the PPP candidate winning over PML-N candidate in the area. According to reports, Chauhan had stayed neutral in spite of pressures to rig the poll.

Two weeks later, on August 15, robbers shot dead Bilal and injured Zeeshan and later easily escaped. The area police got hold of the Butt brothers who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, it is said.

Relatives of Bilal and the locals, who were already angry at the failure of police to stop such incidents, gathered at the scene and decided to imitate the police style of dealing with such crimes.

Eyewitnesses told Daily Times that the mob then snatched the two boys from the police and beat them to death. The locals said police personnel, instead of doing anything to stop the mob, were closely monitoring the situation.

“It was the manifestation of the Gujranwala police’s doctrine that if you find a criminal, especially a dacoit, don’t arrest him alive. Rather, make an example out of him by parading his body on the streets,” they said.

Both DPO Chauhan and SHO Ilyas remain in the hands of the Punjab law enforcement authorities. While Chauhan is under house arrest, Ilyas was arrested today. Meanwhile, DIG Cheema, aka “Gujranwala fake encounter king”, has been transferred and replaced.

Source: PK ON WEB



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