SC orders Najafi report be made part of court record in Model Town case

Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday ordered the Lahore High Court to wind up pending cases regarding 2014 Model Town incident within two weeks.

While at the Supreme Court’s (SC) Lahore registry today, Justice Nisar also ordered Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Aijaz Awan to hear pending cases related to the Model Town incident — in which 14 people had been killed and a 100 others injured in a police assault — on a daily basis. He then cancelled all of the ATC judge’s leaves.

The trial has been pending before the ATC against police and civil administration officials. A private complaint filed by Idara Minhajul Quran, a sister organisation of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), is also pending adjudication before the trial court.

The chief justice also ordered Punjab Advocate General Shakilur Rehman to make Justice Baqar Najafi’s report on the Model Town incident part of the court record. He ordered Rehman to submit the report to the SC’s Lahore registry by 4pm today.

Last week, Justice Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the delay in proceedings in the Model Town incident case after meeting a delegation of the victims’ families at the Lahore registry.

The chief justice had summoned record of the case and also sought a report from the advocate general.

On June 17, 2014, as many as 14 people had been killed and 100 others injured when police launched an assault on Pakistan Awami Tehreek supporters who were gathered outside the residence of party chief Tahirul Qadri in Model Town, Lahore during what the provincial government had dubbed an ‘anti-encroachment’ operation. The incident has since been remembered as the Model Town tragedy.

A judicial commission, formed in 2014 to investigate the incident, had pointed at the government as being responsible in its report, saying that the police had acted on higher authorities’ orders, which had led to the bloodshed.

The report, authored by Justice Najafi, was kept secret for three years, till the Lahore High Court ordered the Punjab government to make it public in December last year.

Delineating the chronology of events, Justice Najafi had reported that then Punjab Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Rana Sanaullah seems to have already decided on June 16, 2014 that the PAT chief would not be allowed any opportunity to hold a long march from Rawalpindi to Lahore, as the latter planned to do on June 23, 2014.

This single-minded determination of the minister to thwart Qadri’s political objectives ended up influencing the police’s heavy-handed strategy in dealing with the situation, which resulted in the needless loss of lives the very next day, Justice Najafi argued in the report.

Though Justice Najafi himself does not affix responsibility for the tragedy, he invites readers to review the facts and circumstances and "easily fix the responsibility of the unfortunate Minhajul Quran incident” themselves.

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