Sahiwal encounter: PM tells Punjab govt to challenge ATC ruling

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ISLAMABAD: A day after an anti-terrorism court (ATC) acquitted all suspects in the Sahiwal encounter case for “lack of evidence”, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on said the prime minister has directed the Punjab government to challenge the ruling.

In a post shared on Twitter, Awan said Prime Minister Imran Khan also “instructed the authorities to investigate weaknesses and loopholes in the case presented by the complainant pleading the case”.

 

In a subsequent tweet, the special assistant to the premier said that the whole country had seen the video of the parents being shot in front of their children.

“The government is committed to providing justice to [these] innocent children. If their family doesn’t become the plaintiff, then the state will act as the plaintiff in the case.”

On Thursday, the ATC in question had acquitted all six personnel of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the charge of killing four persons in an alleged encounter in January.

In a subsequent tweet, the special assistant to the premier today said that the whole country had seen the video of the parents being shot in front of their children.

“The government is committed to providing justice to [these] innocent children. If their family doesn’t become the plaintiff, then the state will act as the plaintiff in the case.”

In January, Mohammad Khalil, his wife and their three children were traveling in a car, with their neighbor Zeeshan behind the steering wheel, when Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel stopped the vehicle and opened fire on the passengers suspecting them to be terrorists. Khalil’s three children Umair, Muneeba and Jaziba had survived the attack.

The suspects said that they had information that Zeeshan had links with a terrorist outfit. They also claimed that all the victims were killed in an ‘encounter’ which turned out to be false after the two minor children narrated facts of the incident to the public.

While the CTD dubbed it an ‘encounter’, the victims’ family maintained that they were going to attend a wedding. The family’s claim proved true as it later transpired that except for Zeeshan, all other occupants of the car were innocent.

A joint investigation team formed to probe into the incident confirmed that the family was innocent and that the CTD officials were responsible for their killing.

Subsequently, the Punjab government removed some top CTD officials and suspended others, while announcing that six CTD officials responsible for the killings would be tried on terrorism and murder charges.

Initially, the trial was conducted in Sahiwal, however, the Lahore High Court on June 17 shifted the proceedings to Lahore allowing an application filed by the victims’ family. The petitioners contended that they had been facing problems while attending trial proceedings in Sahiwal. They also cited security reasons and asked the court to shift the trial proceedings from Sahiwal to Lahore.