Lahore [Pakistan], August 26 (ANI): Lahore Police has formed a high-powered inquiry committee to probe the role of the nearly two dozen former and serving station house officers (SHOs) in the alleged assault of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and workers in the wake of the party's Azadi March on May 25.
The committee was formed after the PTI's top leadership mounted pressure, giving a message to the Punjab government and the police high-ups that "they would have to face the wrath of the party (PTI) if the police officials involved in the action were not made examples for others", the Dawn reported.
According to an official, privy to the information, Lahore DIG Security, Mehboob Rashid was appointed as head of the committee, which comprised some other officers, including the SSPs discipline and admin.
Initially, Lahore Investigations SSP Imran Khishwar was assigned the job of the head of the committee but due to the sensitivity of the matter he refused to take the responsibility, the official noted.
The official said the committee shall conduct inquiries to define the role of the former SHOs and some DSPs who were identified by an anti-victimization committee, constituted by the PTI top leadership in Punjab, the Dawn reported.
Headed by PTI senior leader Shafqat Mahmood, the committee comprised many other political leaders of the party, lawyers, and workers.
Earlier, the Punjab government had removed the then Lahore Capital City Police Officer Bilal Siddique Kamyana and the then Lahore DIG operations on the same allegations.
The official also said that the formal formation of the high-powered committee of the senior police officers had left a disturbing message for those officials who were to undergo the inquiry in the wake of the Azadi March.
There are reports that the committee may recommend major punishment of dismissal from service, registration of criminal cases or both against the officials found guilty of charges, the Dawn reported.
On the recommendations of the anti-victimisation committee, the Lahore police authorities have already closed over a dozen SHOs to the Police Lines.
Meanwhile the SHOs, during a recent meeting with DIG police in this respect, said that they had followed the orders of the senior command and had done nothing in a personal capacity.
A former SHO told the DIG and other officers present in the meeting that he was among those SHOs who received an order on an official Whatsapp number that Section 144 had been imposed in the provincial capital Lahore before the Azadi March. "They were directed that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of 1973 authorises the law enforcers to issue an order to prohibit the assembly of four or more people in an area."
"According to the law, every member of such 'unlawful assembly' could be booked for engaging in rioting. The then SHOs and DSPs were strictly directed to ensure implementation, and arrest the violators," the former SHO said, adding that they had given complete compliance to the lawful orders of their bosses.
Notably, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan held a long protest march to Islamabad on May 25 demanding the dissolution of the National Assembly and a date for the next general election. People in large numbers turned up in the march.
However, the coalition government rounded up over 1,000 PTI leaders and workers in a crackdown designed to derail the party's plans for a massive power show in Islamabad.
Section 144 was imposed in Lahore, the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and Karachi, as well as other major cities in the country, while the Punjab government sought the deployment of Rangers to control the law and order situation.
The federal capital was sealed from the rest of the country as all entry and exit points leading towards Islamabad were closed down with the heavy deployment of police and containers.
Amid this, Pakistan police raided the houses of several PTI leaders and workers.
Several Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders were arrested after the protest. PTI claimed that the police detained the protesters and harassed them as they participated in the Azadi March and that the coalition government is afraid of the masses which is why they had placed containers. (ANI)