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Sialkot Case, Investigation Lynched brothers were not criminals

supreme court of pakistanIslamabad: Justice (retd) Malik Kazim who investigated the case of two brothers lynched by a mob of Sialkot on August 15, said in its report that the boys were not robbers or hardened criminals and not a single cases of snatching and robbery motive has never been reported against them.

Sealed report was opened Wednesday before a bench of the Supreme Court. The bench comprises Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday Court took Suo constitute notice of the incident.

Dozens of people bludgeoned to death Hafiz Mohammad Sajjad Mughees, 18, and Sajjad Mohammad Muneeb, 15, attended by eight police officers and was also the former head of District Police Waqar Chauhan. The bodies were hanging upside down in Chowk.

“I am not in a position to certify that both the brothers possessed angelic character. They might have committed some wrongs during their lifetime, intentionally, unintentionally, innocently or even foolishly, without realising the enormity of their wrongs. But in the given circumstances it can be safely said that they were not robbers, dacoits, hardened criminals, particularly when not a single case of mobile snatching or any other crime had ever been registered or reported against them during their lifetime.”

Justice (retd) Malik said that police personnel present at the spot under the command of the former Sialkot SHO had allowed, rather facilitated, the assailants to attack the two brothers like a pack of hounds.

“Dignity and life of citizens is their fundamental and inviolable right which has been guaranteed under the Constitution” and which could not be taken away or suspended by any government agency, the report said, recommending further investigations by police.

It said the assailants, with active support of the policemen receiving remuneration from the government exchequer for protecting life and honour of citizens, had not only committed the crime of murder and terrorism but also disgraced the victims’ bodies.

The retired judge said the inept and detrimental conduct of the criminal justice system needed reforms, “otherwise the unholy tendency to exercise official authority over and above the law in a self-styled manner may erode the system”.

He said it appeared that a perverted sense of authority had driven the SHO to misusing his official position.

The DPO and SHO facilitated the killings of the two unfortunate brothers hoping that the case might prove a feather in their caps and the incident might be regarded as a crime dealt with successfully and worthy of a place in the category of good police work in their performance sheet, he said.

“It was an ordinary incident in the eyes of local police. The SHO did not reach the spot promptly. The DPO kept sitting in his residence till the two brothers breathed their last. The Gujranwala regional police officer (RPO) reached Sialkot about five to six days after the incident. All these circumstances clearly indicate that it was not an unusual or alarming incident in their assessment. This mindset of the police requires a serious thought,” the report said.

MEDICAL EVIDENCE: It said that Shahjehan Bukhari, the first investigation officer, and Dr Mohammad Farooq, the post-mortem examiner, were liable to face legal consequences for having destroyed and suppressed medical evidence about the murders.

Only 18 injuries on the body of Mughees and 12 on Muneeb were recorded when both the deceased had sustained countless injuries all over their bodies as a result of brutal violence, it said. Their faces had been disfigured but the initial report was written in a manner as if both had suffered a few injuries.

The judge suggested that the bodies be exhumed and re-examined by a board of senior doctors well versed in medical jurisprudence and enjoying a good reputation, failing which ocular account furnished by witnesses would remain uncorroborated.

The court handed over a copy of the report to Punjab Advocate General Khwaja Haris and asked the home secretary for publication in newspapers. However, it said the report should not cause prejudice to the ongoing investigations.

Another report submitted by a joint investigation team headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhaira said 17 civilians and 10 police personnel, including the former DPO, had been arrested because prima facie they appeared to be involved in the incident. Four police personnel are absconding.

The bench asked the new DPO, Bilal Siddiq, to arrest the absconding men and report to the court on Thursday.

It said police should continue the investigation under the Anti-Terrorism Act, present the charge-sheet before the relevant court in accordance with the law and also submit a report to the Supreme Court registrar.

It asked the trial court to ensure expeditious disposal of the case in accordance with the judgment of the 1994 Sheikh Liaquat Hussain case.

The court expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the newly appointed Superintendent of Police (Investigation) of Sialkot, Nasir Qureshi, who did not satisfactorily answer its questions. “This merely indicates carelessness, knowing well the importance of the case that has brought a bad name both to the police as well as the civil society,” the court said and ordered the advocate general to consider handing over the investigation to others.

It praised Hafiz Imran, the district reporter of the Dunya TV channel who had recorded the incident and was later injured in an attack by unknown people. The court ordered police to provide him protection.

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