Inquiry into ‘unfortunate’ Bahawalnagar incident ordered

The ISPR said an unfortunate incident occurred in Bahawalnagar recently

By our correspondents
April 13, 2024
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) logo. — Facebook/OfficialDGISPR/File

RAWALPINDI/ LAHORE: The Pakistan Army on Friday announced that a joint inquiry comprising security and police officials would be conducted to ascertain facts and apportion responsibility in the Bahawalnagar incident.


“To ensure a fair and deliberate inquiry, and to determine responsibility for violation of laws and misuse of authority, a joint inquiry comprising security and police officials will be conducted for ascertaining the facts and apportioning responsibility,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The ISPR said an unfortunate incident occurred in Bahawalnagar recently, which was promptly addressed and resolved through collaborative efforts of military and police authorities. “Despite this, certain factions with vested motives started fanning vitriolic propaganda on social media to create divisions between state institutions and government departments,” the ISPR said.

On the other hand, the IG Punjab said that a banned outfit is trying to create an impression that they (law enforcement agencies) will not go after the enemy anymore, showing videos of some old incidents to create frustration among the Punjab Police personnel. Also presented out of context, IG Punjab Dr Usman Anwar said, was that the incident occurred due to non-following of SOPs of Special Initiative Police Stations.

Both agencies visited the immediate area together. Meetings were held, the matter was resolved amicably and slogans of Pakistan Zindabad, Pakistan Army and Punjab Police were raised. A special inquiry has been set up, and the requirements of the law will be fulfilled during the joint investigation inquiry.

He said the Punjab government has also identified the personal actions of the people involved in the incident. To identify those responsible, an inquiry committee has been set up. The inquiry committee includes the armed forces, Punjab Police and civil authorities. The IG Punjab said that there was an unsuccessful attempt to break the family-like relationship between the leadership of Punjab Police and the force.

Dr. Usman Anwar said the Punjab Police’s war against robbers, thieves, miscreants and anti-social elements will continue with the same enthusiasm. The IG Punjab said that the force should not listen to social media trolling or unnecessary criticism and should not fall victim to misguided propaganda.

In an earlier video message, Dr Usman Anwar said the morale of the Punjab Police is the basis on which they fight against terrorists, thieves and robbers; however, in the Bahawalnagar incident, an attempt was made on social media to give an impression of a conflict between institutions. He said the two institutions jointly took immediate action and RPO Bahawalpur and the local command of the army visited the area.

The Punjab Police said earlier that a ‘minor incident’ had been greatly exaggerated on social media.

In its statement on social media site X, the Punjab Police said an attempt was made to create a false impression of confrontation between the Pakistan Army and Punjab Police. Officials of the institutions examined all the facts and resolved the matter amicably. “When the videos went viral, both institutions launched a joint investigation. Officers from both institutions reviewed the facts and peacefully resolved the matter,” the official statement said. “The Punjab Police and Pakistan Army are cooperating to eliminate terrorists, miscreants and criminals from the province. We request that social media users do not spread fake propaganda,” the statement concluded.

Separately, the Punjab government formed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the Bahawalnagar incident.

A spokesperson for the provincial government said the Bahawalnagar incident was regrettable and the government had formed a JIT comprising officials of the Home Department as well as state security agencies to ascertain the facts and fix responsibility.

The spokesperson said vested interests would not be allowed to propagate against the spirit of unity and cooperation existing between all forces serving Pakistan.

During the Eid days, several videos purportedly showing men in uniforms allegedly beating up police officials in Bahawalnagar went viral on social media. One video showed a man sitting on the ground with a bloody nose. Another clip showed a man and two personnel forcing policemen to kneel in a queue.

Some social media users claimed that the incident was motivated by police recovering an illegal weapon from the relative of a soldier.

According to an official handout, the police had raided a house to arrest an accused a few days ago.

The family of the accused alleged that the police violated the sanctity of the house and subjected the family to severe torture. The police claimed that they had raided the house to arrest a wanted criminal, during which several people, including the family members, took the policemen hostage and tortured them. The police had also registered a case against 23 people, including women.

According to sources, a party of Police Station Madrissa led by ASI Naeem raided the house of Anwar Jutt late night April 8. However, Anwar Jutt’s family got hold of the police party. Upon receiving the report, SHO Rizwan attacked the house of Anwar who along with his sons, including Khalil, who was dressed in commando uniform, and an Anti-Narcotics Force sepoy Idrees, captured the SHO and his policemen for allegedly torturing the female members of the family.

Responding to the desperate calls of SHO, a larger police force was sent to the scene of conflict and rescued the captured policemen from the custody of the victim’s family. Anwar Jutt, his sons and females were arrested and booked for attacking the police party. It is alleged the arrested persons were not produced before a magistrate for remand.

Reacting to the arrest and torture of a commando, the military authorities intervened and an FIR was registered on April 10 against SHO Rizwan and other police officials for keeping Khalil, his father and brothers in illegal custody. SHO Rizwan and his colleagues were arrested by their own police station’s new SHO Inspector Saifullah and were shifted to the custody of Police Station City A Division, Bahawalnagar.

A police source and eyewitnesses, requesting anonymity, said that upon finding the accused SHO and his accomplices were reportedly being treated in a relaxed manner in the said police station, dozens of people in uniforms stormed both the A and B Division police stations on April 11 at 1.15 pm and thrashed SHO Rizwan, his co-accused and other policemen. Later, the relevant authorities intervened and brought the situation under control.

A viral video shows officials of both forces in uniforms raising slogans in each other’s favour.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has demanded a transparent and comprehensive enquiry into the clash in Bahawalnagar to identify the culprits instead of providing cover to the perpetrators of the act.

A PTI spokesperson, in a statement issued by the party’s Central Media Department, called for making the report public without editing, once furnished. He strongly condemned the ‘brazen incident’.

“We, at PTI, have been victim of the worst state oppression and are fully aware of the effect it causes and pain it leaves behind. The process of healing the nation must commence in earnest with equal and equitable provision of justice to all being its first step,” added the spokesman.