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Tuesday May 28, 2024

'Toxic' powder-laced letters: LHC devises new SOPs for security of judges

DSP-level officer to give security clearance to posts, mails to LHC judges, administration says

By Naveen Ali
April 05, 2024
The facade of the Lahore High Courts building. — LHC website
The facade of the Lahore High Court's building. — LHC website

As authorities failed to stop delivery of letters containing 'toxic powder' to country’s top judges, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has taken a special step devising new SOPs for receiving posts and mails in order to ensure safety and security of jurists.

"New SOPs has been adopted for handling the letters being posted to the jurists," the LHC’s administration said in a statement on Friday.

All courier companies and postmen have been restricted to mandatory clear all genre of letters and posts from the security room. A deputy superintendent police (DSP) ranked officers would undergo security checkup of the letters before they would be handed over to the relevant judges' staff officers.

A postman namely Atif — who delivered the letters containing suspicious powdery substance to the judges’ offices — told Geo News that it was his routine work to deliver letters and he did not know what was inside the envelopes.

After the suspected power-laced letters, the Pakistan Post also took special measures for security of staffers and thorough inspection of postal letters, and other mails. It has been directed to provide masks and gloves to the staffers for their safety and security.

Subsequently, the Pakistan Post ordered entire staffers to carefully check letters and other mails, especially the mails in the names of judges, diplomats and other high-profile personalities, a notification read.

The postal staffers have also been directed to stay vigilant while booking and delivery of mails, it added.

'White powder contained 10% arsenic'

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has received the forensic report of the powder found in the mysterious letters sent to the judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court, sources told Geo News.

At least six judges of the apex court, eight of the Islamabad High Court and six of the Lahore High Court received letters containing white powder which was believed to be anthrax, creating fear in the judiciary. The latest judge to receive the threatening letter was LHC's Justice Najafi.

The CTD lodged two FIRs against unknown people and launched an inquiry into the matter.

The investigators obtained the videos of the CCTV cameras installed near the letterboxes in the sub-divisional post office Satellite Town, Rawalpindi. The sources shared that the suspects in the videos are being identified with the help of Nadra.

Amid calls to probe the matter mount, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has promised the government would probe the matter of threat letters received by judges with suspicious powder, with a sense of responsibility to uncover the reality.

Addressing the federal cabinet, he observed that the sensitive matter should not be given a political twist.