June 17, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
LAHORE: Voicepk revisits a report by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi, who headed a tribunal of inquiry into the 2014 Model Town massacre in Lahore.
Was the police operation planned?
According to the inquiry report, the police operation was planned by then Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah. “The operation planned and devised under the chairmanship of the then Law Minister resulted in gruesome killings that could have been easily avoided,” Justice Najafi wrote in the report’s conclusion.
The report questioned the provincial government’s rationale in replacing the inspector general of police and deputy commissioner of Lahore just before the blood batch occurred.
When did police start shooting protesters?
The chronology of the events at Model Town listed that a police contingent tried to enter Dr Tahirul Qadri’s residence at 9.20am on the day but was resisted by PAT women workers. The report that two women resisting the police advancement were shot first. The police also dragged women workers by the hair as well as beat them with sticks. Consequently, the police force started firing straight on the protesters, mostly men and women. The wounded victims were taken to nearby Jinnah Hospital at 12 noon.
Was police shooting meant to ward off or kill protesters?
In its conclusion, the report stated that fact and circumstances of the blood batch clearly show that police officers actively participated in the massacre. “The action of police firing and severely beating the people on crime scene is irrefutably suggestive that the police did exactly for which they were sent and gathered there,” the report concluded.
Who ordered the police to open fire?
The report pointed out the police officials appearing before the tribunal all colluded in hiding the fact that who gave the command to shoot on Pakistan Awami Tehrik activists.
“The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participating in the operation or not , did not utter a single about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers.”
The then Inspector General of Police told the tribunal that police resorted to firing when PAT workers started throwing bricks and also opened fire that injured police officials. Both sides resorted to firing.
The report quoted the then Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) that protesters took hostage police officials and also fired from the rooftop of the building, leading to police retaliating by opening fire.
According to the then Lahore District Coordination Officer, the police contingent opened fire when a furious mob started pelting stones and bricks at them.
The report noted that such a police action of opening fire was not commensurate with the resistance shown by unarmed PAT workers, leading to the shooting of 14 individuals.
Was the provincial government absolved of responsibility?
The report concluded that the ‘apathy and recklessness of all authorities in Punjab created a genuine doubt about their innocence’ in the Model Town massacre. The report also concluded that the order of disengagement given by then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was not passed at all to the police contingent, terming it apparently an afterthought defense taken before the nation in the press conference.