Jaweria Waheed |
After three years, five months and eighteen days since the bloodbath in Model Town occurred in 2014, the first inquiry tribunal report was finally made public on 5th of December this year. Shehbaz Shareef announced the formation of one judge inquiry tribunal under the Honorable judge of Higher Court Justice Baqir Ali Najfi on 17th June 2014 in a press conference soon after the incident happened.
Despite the nefarious efforts of the government to keep the tribunal functionally paralyzed, its content still haunted them the most and they tried to delay its release as long as they could. Since, all the delaying tactics had failed pathetically, therefore the government released the report on its website after the review appeal by the government was ignored by the Lahore Higher Court.
While concluding the inquiry, the report states that “The actions of police of firing and severely beating the people on the crime scene is irrefutable suggestive that the police did exactly for which they were sent and gathered over there”.
The terms and reference of tribunal working was mentioned on Page 1 of the report as “For making inquiry and to ascertain the facts and circumstances of the incident at Minhaj ul Quran Academy and Secretariat in Model Town” (Page 1). It clearly excogitate that there were limitations to the tribunal working as they had the authority to ascertain the facts and circumstances and not to fix the responsibility.
Therefore, the misinformation regarding the credibility of the report and that it “does not make a mention of any member from Punjab Government”, as stated by Rana Sanaullah, while addressing a press conference after the release of the report, becomes baseless because Punjab government has placed this limitation on the tribunal to fix the responsibility.
The Baqir Najfi report has made a mention of its request to the Punjab government as “Vide letter No.9/TOI dated 20.06.14 this tribunal asked for conferment of additional powers u/s 11 of the Punjab Tribunals of Inquiry Ordinance, 1969 regarding the power of this tribunal to order the police investigation into any matter coming before it sole for the purpose that work of the Tribunal may be undertaken but Govt. of Punjab through letter No. SO (Judll. III) 9-53/2014 dated 27.06.2014 refused to confer the power” (Page 2).
Considering the limitations of the powers conferred to the tribunal, the report concludes with the remarks that “Keeping in view the above facts and circumstances the reader of this report can easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhaj ul Quran incident” (Page 73). It explicates that the names of those who have their hands in this battue have been mentioned between the lines and can be spotted easily.
Report of Baqir Najfi commission can be analyzed at various levels. Firstly, it highlights the contradictions between the statements of Chief Minister Shehbaz Shareef, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Syed Touqeer Shah being recorded through their affidavits. Shehbaz Shareef stating his order of “disengagement” of the police to Tauqeer Shah has been declared null and void by the report since it has not been corroborated by any single witness to the tribunal including Rana Sanaullah and Tauqeer Shah.
“For making inquiry and to ascertain the facts and circumstances of the incident at Minhaj ul Quran Academy and Secretariat in Model Town”.
The report mentions it to be an “afterthought” because Shehbaz Shareef himself did not mention it in the press conference he addressed soon after the incident on 17th June. Secondly, the mapping of this incident in light of mere “encroachment removing operation” too has been categorically rejected on account of the facts revealed to the tribunal.
In conclusion, the report reveals that the agenda of the meeting on 16.06.14 was to “disallow Dr Qadri to take any opportunity to fulfill his objective” (Page 65) with reference to the ouster of the government which was scheduled as a movement upon Dr Qadri’s arrival on 23rd June.
In that meeting, the report states that order was issued to remove the barriers outside secretariat MQI and the residence of Dr Qadri by the “chair” Rana Sanaullah with the consent of Dr Tauqeer Shah on behalf of CM Punjab. It discredits the CM’s statement in the affidavit that he came to know about the operation via television in the morning.
Thirdly, the report confirms the fact that the objective of the operation was not to remove barriers, which were legally placed on the order of Lahore Higher Court. The report states that “the participants (of the meeting) were in knowledge of the orders passed by Lahore Higher Court” and that the “legal opinion from the advocate general was not sought” (Page 66).
Adding further to validate his conclusion, the report mentions that while negotiating with PAT during the course of operation “The appellant produced the said orders (orders of LHC) but AC and SP didn’t pay heed to the orders of LHC” (Page 54) which leads to a more conclusive inference that the police was ordered to complete the given task by the authorities at any cost.
Shehbaz Shareef stating his order of “disengagement” of the police to Tauqeer Shah has been declared null and void by the report since it has not been corroborated by any single witness to the tribunal including Rana Sanaullah and Tauqeer Shah.
While concluding the inquiry, the report states that “The actions of police of firing and severely beating the people on the crime scene is irrefutable suggestive that the police did exactly for which they were sent and gathered over there” (Page 73).
Tribunal has also categorically highlighted the disproportionate act of aggression by police by admitting that “Such a level of offensive by police by any stretch of imagination didn’t commensurate with the level of resistance by unarmed PAT workers” (Page 66-67) which according to the report “were holding in their hands wooden sticks, whereas the police was armed with weapons” (Page 55).
The report by quoting section 128 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 provides legal evidence of the direct involvement and supervision of Punjab authorities of the operation that under law “firing is to be ordered only under the specific directions of an officer of the police.”
Jotting down the facts revealed and the careful secrecy of the coordination, the tribunal by quoting that “Men can tell a lie but circumstances do not” metaphorically bring the undercover agents and masked killers to the limelight by remarking that “The entire gamut of facts and circumstances speak volumes that there was no good intention of the government to arrive at a definitive end” and that “the apathy and recklessness of all authorities in Punjab in the matter under hand, created the genuine doubt about their innocence.”
Jaweria Waheed is a graduate in International Relations from Kinnaird College. She is a member of the Editorial Board for the magazine ‘Voice of Students’ and has been a blogger with media organizations ARY News & Dunya News, Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.