Model Town tragedy: Will new JIT be effective?

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News Analysis |

In an interesting development, the Home Department of Punjab on Thursday constituted a new joint investigation team (JIT) for probing 2014Model Town massacre. The investigation team will be headed by Inspector General (IG) Motorways AD Khawaja, read a notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary Home Fazeel Asghar.

The JIT will comprise of representative of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Colonel Mohammad Attique-uz-Zaman, Military Intelligence (MI) Lt Colonel Irfan Mirza, Deputy Director General Intelligence Bureau (IB) Mohammad Ahmed Kamal, and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Police Headquarters Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Raza.

Later on, a commission was made under the supervision of a LHC serving judge. The commission submitted its report but the PML-N led government did not publish it. 

On December 5, 2018, the Supreme Court had ordered the Punjab government to form a new joint investigation team (JIT) in the Model Town case after the five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard a petition filed by Bisma Amjad, the daughter of Tanzila Amjad who was among those who got killed in the incident, for the formation of a new JIT in the Model Town case. Interestingly, Justice Asif Saeed, soon to be CJP, remarked that after the indictment of former Punjab IGP Mushtaq Sukera in the case, all statements had to be recorded again.

It is worth mentioning here that a deadly clash took place on 17 June 2014 where at least 14 members of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) got killed and 100 others injured by the indiscriminate use of force by the Punjab police. The Model Town tragedy made headlines across the world and the PML-N government was criticized and exposed for following a vested political agenda.

Read more: Sharifs in trouble as SC orders JIT formation in Model Town…

Later on, a commission was made under the supervision of a LHC serving judge. The commission submitted its report but the PML-N led government did not publish it.  Ultimately, the Punjab government, at the behest of the LHC, had made the report of the Model Town incident public on December 5, 2017.

Justice Najafi reports that the then Punjab Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah seems to have already decided on June 16, 2014 that Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Dr. Tahirul Qadri would not be allowed any opportunity to hold a long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore, as the latter planned to do on June 23, 2014.

Though Justice Najafi himself does not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invites readers to review the facts and circumstances and “easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident” themselves.

This single-minded determination of the minister to thwart Dr. Qadri’s political objectives ended up influencing the police’s heavy-handed strategy in dealing with the situation, which resulted in the needless loss of lives the very next day, Justice Najafi argues in the report.

Justice Najafi outlines four very important points in his findings:

  • “The operation planned and designed under the chairmanship of the then law minister resulted in gruesome killings could have easily been avoided.”
  • “The facts and circumstances of the bloodbath clearly show that the police officers actively participated in the massacre.”
  • “The apathy and recklessness of all authorities in Punjab in the matter under hand created genuine doubts about their innocence.”
  • “The actions of police of firing and severely beating the people on the crime scene are irrefutably suggestive that the police did exactly for which they were sent and gathered over there.”

Though Justice Najafi himself does not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invites readers to review the facts and circumstances and “easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident” themselves.

Read more: PM Khan vows to get Model Town victims Justice

Now the new JIT will probe into the matter and will reveal the facts as to who ordered police to use unnecessary force and kill 14 innocent people? This will have a deep political impact on the domestic politics of Pakistan where PML-N is already facing an existential crisis. Since PML-N was in the government then, therefore, the JIT is likely to investigate the matter while asking questions from former law minister and other concerned individuals.

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