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December 6, 2017

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Punjab govt’s reservations on report

Punjab govt’s reservations on report

ISLAMABAD: Though the Punjab government has made the Model Town inquiry report public, a detailed look at the report shows that the inquiry was not conducted on the basis of hard facts but second-hand reports and analyseswere relied upon. Sources in the Punjab government believe that the report made an unfortunate incident into a grand conspiracy and did not highlight the fact that the police used force that was disproportionate to the situation because of their inability to estimate the quantum of force against them.
Talking to The News, a well-placed source in the provincial government said the report suffered internal inconsistencies. However, in order to get an independent view, the government appointed a former judge of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court to review the report and submit its findings.
The one-man inquiry committee highlighted issues in the report and recommended that it may not be acted upon and/or made public. According to sources, the report is based on annexes and documents which are not attached with it. Since these annexes and documents were not provided to the government despite repeated requests, the government was constrained to assume that they were either not there when the report was formulated or was not reproduced correctly (Reports of ISI, IB, and the Special Branch mentioned at pages 48-52 and ISI report about examination of call records mentioned at page 12 may refer).
“The report asserts that the police acted in a sectarian manner. For instance, it alleges that the police responded violently when religious slogans of a particular nature were raised (page 57 of the report may refer), when the police were not organised on sectarian basis and both the police and the government do not even keep records of sectarian affiliations of the police or government servants”, commented the source.
The source further said the report makes factual assertions, which are incorrect. For instance, it states that 14 people died when the record clearly shows that only 10 people had lost their lives.
The report also mentions at page 50 that PAT supporters and workers were armed and their actions led to the police officers being injured (as early as 10.00 am). It, however, declares subsequently that PAT workers were unarmed and police attacked peaceful residents.
The report ignores the evidence of police witnesses that they were attacked by armed protesters without assigning any reason. It also ignores the forensic evidence of aggression of PAT towards the police, said the source adding that the tribunal did not confront the witnesses with their statements.
The tribunal made inferences without allowing key persons to explain and respond to any questions. “The tribunal did not take into consideration the established principles of law that where a statement is not subjected to cross-examination, it must be accepted. The tribunal, however, did not accept them as such and drew adverse inferences from them.
"There are internal inconsistencies in the report. For instance, one part of the report states that the CM's instructions were not conveyed while in another part it states that they were listlessly conveyed (last 8 lines of page 71 of the report may refer)”, commented the source.
According to sources, the report is silent about the fact that forensic experts were denied access to the crime scene and evidence was removed from the crime scene by the PAT, which was a serious offence under ATA, 1997.
The tribunal made much of small differences in statements when this clearly shows that statements were made voluntarily and without prior consultation and deliberation. Similarly, the report is at variance with both JIT reports on which members of intelligence agencies were represented.
The sources further claimed that the report was written in an offhand manner at a private facility. “If you look at the index of report, it mentions manufacturing and production record (Page 35) and sale/administration (Page 36). However, the report does not contain any details of manufacturing and production record and sale/administration. This action does not inspire confidence in the report.
“The tribunal stated that it was not given investigation powers. This was stated despite the fact that investigation is a time-consuming work and includes visits to crime scenes and interrogation of accused persons. In fact, the court trying the complaint could have ordered the police to investigate the case or could have asked any other person to conduct the investigation but it did not choose to do the same. In any case, a power under Section 11 would have led to a police investigation and the tribunal would then have become superfluous in the matter," commented the source.
When asked why the report was not made public, the sources claimed that it wasn’t made public because it could have created an atmosphere for a media trial and created an environment, which could be used to overawe the trial court. Further, he said the report has lost relevance since investigation of the two FIRS regarding the event have been completed by JITs, which included members of intelligence agencies on whose reports the inquiry tribunal relies upon.
Further, the conclusions of JITs and the inquiry tribunal are different. Similarly, the conclusions drawn by the Anti-Terrorism Court during its preliminary inquiry are also different from the conclusions of the inquiry tribunal. The court in fact found that there was no evidence against the former PM, the chief minister, the law minister and government officers listed as respondents. The versions of PAT as contained in their FIR and complaint are materially different. Obviously, the truth cannot be different, said the sources.

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