Heirs of Sahiwal ‘encounter’ victims get Rs30m cheques, await justice


LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday met the family of the victims of the Sahiwal fake encounter case at Chief Minister’s Secretariat and handed over cheques worth Rs30 million to them as compensation for their huge loss.

Imran, who was accompanied by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the heirs of the victims.

He that “while there can be no compensation for the loss of human lives, the government stands with the family and shares their grief.”

According to Geo News, the family demanded formation of a judicial commission into the incident. The PM said he would consider their request, the channel claimed.

In January 2019, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel shot four people dead, including a teenage girl Areeba and her parents Mohammad Khalil and Nabila, on GT Road in Qadirabad area near Sahiwal. The security officials claimed that the victims were killed in an ‘intelligence-based operation’, but their statement was called into question after two children, who were also in the car at the time of the incident, said that the family, along with one of their neighbours, were going to attend a wedding.

Later, the officials said they had received a report that the fourth victim, Zeeshan Javed, the family’s neighbour who was driving the car, was affiliated with proscribed terrorist outfit Daesh. Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat had subsequently termed the killing of the parents and their teenage daughter as “collateral damage”.

Soon after the incident, the Punjab government had constituted a joint investigation team (JIT) under the supervision of Additional Inspector General of Police Ijaz Shah.

However, after the families of the deceased expressed dissatisfaction with the JIT, the Lahore High Court ordered on February 14 that a judicial inquiry be conducted.

A sessions judge had thereafter appointed civil judge-cum-judicial magistrate Shakeel Goraya to hold the inquiry into the incident within 30 days.

The Judicial Inquiry Officer (JIO) recorded statements of 49 people including eyewitnesses, deceased Khalil’s son Muhammad Ibrahim, the CTD suspects, personnel of the Yousafwala police station, Rescue 1122 and the Bomb Disposal Squad and complainants of both FIRs — one registered at the CTD, Lahore and the other at the Yousafwala police station, Sahiwal.

The JIT led by Goraya during the course of its probe had declared Khalil and his family innocent, but termed the car driver Zeeshan a terrorist.

On March 3, Gill had said that the JIT has rejected the CTD’s claim of crossfire in the Sahiwal operation. Furthermore, the team found no evidence of the presence of suspected motorcyclists.

On April 4, the six CTD officials who have been nominated in the case were produced before the Anti Terrorism Court in Sahiwal. The ATC fixed for hearing a plea filed by the suspects in which they seek the removal of Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) from the first information report (FIR) of the incident.