The alleged killers of a number of people, including a 70-year-old man, have been released from remand prison on the orders of another civilian. The man who arranged their release is the brother of a provincial minister, and the men themselves work for the minster’s political party. The investigation officer in the case was promoted after he allowed the men’s release.
According to the details, on October 8, 2008, two persons, Mr Qaiser and Mr Faisal, came to the house of Mr Bashir Ahmed, 70, by motorbike. Ahmed’s three sons were sitting outside, and an altercation began between them and the bike riders, over help the sons had given a man (Faqir Hussain) after he was beaten earlier by the same bike riders. The son’, Mr. Malik Liaquat Ali, Mr. Nadeem and Mr. Irshad were at number 274, gate number 1, Samanabad, Faisalabad-Punjab province.
Though the sons tried to avoid an argument. However, the fight escalated and the bike riders called for back-up. Soon after, the two thugs, with six others (named Abdul Khaliq, Tariq, Iftekhar, Muazzamal, Aamer and Yasir) attacked the house. During the fight the attackers opened fire, shooting Bashir Ahmed in the abdomen. He died later on the way to hospital.
Although the station house officer at the Factory Police Station, Faisalabad, refused to file a case of murder at first, community pressure from the family’s neighbours saw that an FIR (First Information Report), number 1047/08, was eventually lodged.
On the instructions of Mr Rana Iqbal, the Senior Superintendent of the Police (SSP) of Faisalabad, the SHO then appointed Mr. Khawar Saleem Waraich as the investigation officer. Waraich has had corruption and murder charges filed against him in the past and Rana Iqbal, the SSP, is a close relative of the provincial Minister for Law.
However after four months, the police have still not started an investigation. Instead, with the alleged intervention of Mr. Rana Ejaz Ahmed, the brother in law of the Punjab provincial minister (Mr. Rana Sana Ullah), seven of the attackers were released on December 2, 2008 without any investigation being done. Only one attacker, Aamir, was charged. The charge was lenient: the use of a gun in self defense. His charge reads that Bashir Ahmed’s sons attacked his house, with the intention to rob it.
Being well-protected by Rana Ejaz Ahmed, the perpetrators are now threatening the victim’s family, and the men, already notorious, have become a greater threat within the community due to their perceived impunity. The men are habitual criminals, with at least one of them accused within the community of beating his father and uncle to death, with the help of the others.
The investigative officer is no better. After a case in 2000 in which he killed five people, Waraich was transferred and suspended, but the brother-in-law of the minister of law was able to bring him back to the station. He was also charged with taking a bribe in the past in a session court, in return for the release of a prisoner. Waraich was promoted to the position of station house officer at the Jhamro police station on the day after the release of the seven alleged gangsters.
The Punjab provincial government needs to closely examine the way its ministers are involving themselves in the judicial process. That a man and his relatives can so freely overturn arrest warrants of repeated offenders begs a number of questions about the system of law in the province, as does the promotion of the investigative officer involved. The government needs to restart a serious investigation in to the case, bring the perpetrators before the law and take a strong stand against vigilante justice and entrenched nepotism.