Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed swift action against the personnel of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) if they are found guilty by a joint investigation team (JIT) formed to look into Saturday’s “encounter” in Sahiwal that left four people dead.
In a series of tweets yesterday, the premier expressed shock at the incident, and said that the state will look after the children whose parents were shot dead by the CTD personnel.
“Still shocked at seeing the traumatised children who saw their parents shot before their eyes. Any parent would be shocked as they would think of their own children in such a traumatic situation.
“These children will now be fully looked after by the state as its responsibility,” he tweeted.
Towards that end, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat, while addressing a press briefing on the Sahiwal “encounter” yesterday, said that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had announced Rs20mn in compensation for the family who lost three members during the “encounter”.
Basharat also said that the JIT tasked with looking into the “encounter” will present its findings to the Punjab government within three days.
“The team that took part in this operation has been taken into custody,” he said, adding that the supervisor of the CTD officials involved in the incident had also been suspended.
Basharat, who was briefing the press alongside members of the cabinet, added that a first information report (FIR) had been registered at the family’s request.
Sixteen CTD officials have been booked under terrorism charges for their involvement in Saturday’s “encounter.
The case was registered in Yousafwala police station of Sahiwal district yesterday, in response to a complaint by Jaleel Ahmed, the brother of Khaleel, who was killed during the shootout.
The FIR was lodged under section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code along with section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
Prime Minister Khan, while lauding the CTD for its fight against terrorism, asserted that everyone must be accountable before the law.
“While the CTD has done a great job in fight against terrorism, everyone must be accountable before the law. As soon as JIT report comes, swift action will be taken. The government’s priority is protection of all its citizens,” he wrote.
Four people, including Khaleel, his wife and their teenage daughter – were killed while their son received bullet wounds in the “encounter” in Sahiwal on Saturday.
The CTD, in a statement detailing its version of Saturday’s “encounter” in Sahiwal, claimed that the “terrorist” driving the car shot at the police when intercepted.
CTD personnel reported that they had killed Zeeshan, a local commander of the Islamic State organisation, known locally as Daesh, and three others in the anti-terror operation.
Eyewitnesses, however, disputed the claim, and said the people in the car did not fire at officials, nor were any explosives recovered from the vehicle.
In the statement, the CTD said its Sahiwal team had intercepted the vehicle in question.
“When the vehicle was intercepted at 12.15 noon [Saturday], it did not stop. The driver started shooting at the CTD team. The car was followed by a motorcycle with two riders.
“They also fired at the CTD team. The shootout resulted in death of one terrorist Zeeshan and accompanying family members,” the statement read.
“The vehicle had tinted glasses, hence children on rear seat were not seen. The family became victim of circumstances.
“Zeeshan misused his position and gave the family a ride to Burewala. In fact, Zeeshan was carrying explosives of terrorists who were travelling on [the] motorcycle.
“After dropping the family in Burewala, Zeeshan had planned to drop explosives somewhere in Khanewal or Multan,” the CTD statement said.
The statement added that the members of the family may not have been “aware of the status of Zeeshan, who had become a terrorist. The family was trapped by the terrorists. They became victim of circumstances”.
The CTD further said that when the news of the incident was aired on TV, there were terrorists hiding in Zeeshan’s house who saw the news and fled from the house.
They were, however, spotted by intelligence surveillance.
The Daesh network in question had killed three ISI officers in Multan, including the nephew of former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, and a police officer in Faisalabad.
It had also kidnapped Ali Haider Gillani, the son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, from Multan, and US national Warren Weinstein from Lahore, the CTD statement said.
On January 13, Daesh militants were spotted in a Suzuki vehicle that was traced to Zeeshan’s house in Lahore’s Chungi Amar Sidhu, the CTD added.
The CTD officials involved in the “encounter” on Saturday have been taken into custody on the orders of Punjab Chief Minister Buzdar, a spokesperson said earlier.
The Punjab chief minister gave the directives for the CTD personnel’s arrest after Prime Minister Khan took notice of the incident and demanded a transparent probe into the killings.
According to initial findings from a postmortem carried out on the bodies of the deceased, the driver Zeeshan sustained 10 gunshot wounds while the children’s father, Khaleel, was shot 13 times.
The mother, Nabeela Bibi, was shot four times while 13-year-old Areeba was shot six times.
Their son Umair sustained bullet wounds on his leg, whereas his young sister Muneeba was injured by the shattered glass windows of the car.
The two injured children were being treated at Lahore’s General Hospital, while four-year-old Hadia was discharged from the hospital and taken home.
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