Justice Khalilur Rehman rubbishes Najafi’s Model Town inquiry report


Lahore, Dec. 6 (TNS): Former Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Khalilur Rehman Khan has rejected Justice Baqar Najafi’s Model Town inquiry report saying that the report is based on unauthorized news items, legally unacceptable but only suitable for political opponents.

Khalilur Rehman pointed out over a dozen flaws in the Model Town inquiry report and asked the Punjab government not to accept the inquiry report as it could fan sectarian tensions.

While making public the Model Town inquiry report on Tuesday on LHC orders, the Punjab government has also published a review of the report by Justice (R) Khalilur Rehman Khan. The review report points out serious contradictions and flaws in Justice Baqar Najafi’s report and term it against sectarian harmony.

“I for the deficiencies noted herein above and for the reason enumerated would recommend that the government will be advised not to accept this report. Moreover, making the Report (public) specially the marked pages will be against public interest as it is likely to damage sectarian harmony and public peace”, says the 68-page analysis of Model Town Inquiry Report signed by Justice (R) Khalilur Rehman who has also served as a Supreme Court judge.

The review noted that judgment of tribunal regarding Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif not passing the order of disengagement to police was “grossly unfair”. It says the finding of tribunal in this regards are self-contradictory as on the one hand the Tribunal says that such a direction “may have been passed listlessly” while on the other hand the Tribunal has observed that the “order of disengagement was not passed at all.

In his detailed review, the former LHC Chief Justice noted that Model Town Inquiry Tribunal ignored a number of facts and witness statements regarding firing on police by armed Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) workers on the day of unfortunate incident. The incident known as Model Town Tragedy took place on June 17, 2014 in which 14 people had been killed and 100 others injured when police launched an operation against the PAT workers gathered outside the residence of party chief Dr Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore.

The review report wondered why the tribunal ignored report of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) which detailed firing from the PAT chief’s residence injuring policemen. “The three police officials received bullet shots at about 9.30 a.m totally unprovoked when the police wanted to recover the besieged police officials. The police officials received gunshot injuries as is apparent from medical record produced during the inquiry,” it says.

In his statement Superintendent Police Tariq repeatedly stated that, PAT workers resorted to severe aerial firing during attacks on the Police. “The above stated version as to firing by PAT workers appears not to have been challenged in cross-examination by the Tribunal,” Justice Khalil’s report says.

In this connection CCPO’s report that two SMGs and three 30 bore pistols were taken into possession from the PAT miscreants. “In the presence of aforesaid evidence on record how could the finding be made that PAT workers had not used fire arms,” the report says.

Also the report pointed out that the Tribunal of Inquiry visited the site of incident on 19-06-2014 in the evening in dark hours, noting that visit at such a time would not be of any practical utility. “May be for that reason notes of the visit and the facts seen were not prepared, despite requirement of the law”.

The review noted: “The Tribunal of Inquiry has assumed the role of a Judge while recording verdict/ decision in respect of these issues.” It adds that conclusions recorded by tribunal suffer from factual and legal infirmities.

It is evident that the then Minister of Law and Local Government Rana Sanaullah has based the decision for removal of the barriers on legal grounds and not for any extraneous reasons. “The observation of the Tribunal suggesting that the decision was taken because of some strong point of view not to allow Dr. Qadri to take any opportunity is therefore not borne out from record,” report says.

Thus the decision to remove the barriers at site was not the real cause “leading to most unfortunate incident in the history of Pakistan” rather it was something that transpired at the site on 17.06.2014 that triggered off the said incident and the attitude of the Management of Idara Minhajul Quran which admittedly had given an ultimatum to the SP Model Town to leave within 10 minutes (see page 55 of the report).

The record sufficiently describes the situation which developed resulting into the death of 10 persons and injuries to PAT workers and police officials. It is on record that there was at least three occasions on which the police had attempted to negotiate with the PAT leaders for removal of the barriers on their own, of which two such occasions are mentioned at page 53 of the Report while third is mentioned at page 27 of the Report.

The review also termed the remarks of tribunal on page 57 as most unfortunate where tribunal states “it was painfully noted that armed policemen stated manhandled the women and heard announcing to call Hussain and Ali.”

The review questioned a witness Javed Iqbal who is described as overzealous as he wrongly described the events of the day which could not be verified from other witnesses. The reviewing judge noted that the said witness wanted to arouse sectarian feelings.

“The crafty Javed Iqbal knew about the faith of presiding officer and intended to invoke his religious feelings”. It says that the tribunal did not unearth the factors involved in vandalism by Gullu Butt apparently in the presence of police. It wondered how the tribunal missed the incident, which was reported widely by media.

Earlier, Rana Sanaullah said that the government has fulfilled its promise by making the report public.

The minister, however, repeatedly dismissed the report as defective during the media talk. “The report is defective in the eye of law because it is based on secondary evidence, which is not admissible as per the Evidence Act,” Sanaullah said. He accused Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s leader Tahir ul Qadri (PAT) of creating a fuss over the [Model Town incident] report.

He stated that the Punjab government had filed an intra-court appeal against the September 21 decision of a single-bench ordering the release of the inquiry report, authored by LHC Justice Baqar Najafi.

Rana Sanaullah in his media talk termed the report inconclusive claiming that it fails to fix responsibility for the incident on any member of government or law enforcement agencies. He said that the report also mentions that PAT workers resisted the police crackdown, which was the reason a clash took place.

Sanaullah said: “The report concludes that ‘the reader of this report may easily be able to fix responsibility for a responsible for the incident’.” He added that he had never seen any report which does not itself fix responsibility but asks the reader to do it.