Amid the ongoing controversy surrounding the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the attempt on former premier Imran Khan’s life in Wazirabad, the federal government has rejected the new team formed by the Punjab government and suggested that it reconstitute the body by giving intelligence officials a role to ensure fair investigation.
In a strongly-worded communique sent to the Punjab government on Wednesday, the federal government said it would not accept a ‘controversial’ police officer, Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, who had allegedly violated the orders of the establishment division in the past, as head of the JIT.
While the Ministry of Interior letter also raised some legal flaws in the new JIT constituted by the Punjab government, a sessions court in Wazirabad, in the meantime directed the same JIT to record the version of the petitioner and decided that a separate FIR of the shooting was not needed on the basis of new information.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Qasim Ali Bhatti observed in his order: “After registration of an FIR, the investigating officer is to embark upon an exercise to discover the actuality of the matter irrespective of the version of the incident narrated in the FIR.” He explained that every new information received by the investigating officer or every new circumstance in which the relevant offence was committed coming to his notice did not require registration of a separate FIR. The court then disposed of the petition filed by PTI-Lahore secretary general Zubair Khan Niazi.
In its letter to the Punjab government, the interior ministry stated that the constitution of the JIT under Section 19(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 requires inclusion of an officer of any other investigation agency, including an intelligence agency. The federal government pointed out that the JIT comprised five members, all belonging to the Punjab police, without representation of any other investigation agency/intelligence agency in the violation of the ATA.
“Moreover, it has been observed that Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, the Lahore CCPO who has been appointed as convener of the JIT had been suspended vide establishment division’s notification issued on Nov 5, but later temporarily restored by the Federal Service Tribunal,” the letter read.
It stated Mr Dogar had been involved in controversies and his appointment would not inspire confidence of general public. “In view of the aforesaid it is clear that the JIT constituted by the Punjab government is in contravention of the relevant provisions of the Act ibid as not only there is no representation any other investigation agency, including an intelligence agency but the appointment of controversial police officer who is facing disciplinary proceedings and is temporarily restored, as convener of the JIT will further compromise the fairness of the inquiry,” the letter added.
The interior ministry stated the reconstitution of the JIT within a span of six days did not reflect well in terms of the fairness of investigation. “It would, therefore, be appropriate for the Punjab government to constitute a JIT for a case of such sensitivity which should comprise police officers with a proven track record of professional competence, experience and integrity and also include representatives of Intelligence Bureau and ISI in line with Section 19 (1) of the ATA 1997 to ensure that the ends of the justice are met”, the letter advised.
JIT MEETING: However, Lahore CCPO Dogar set aside the federal government’s concerns and called the first meeting of the JIT as its head late on Wednesday evening. An official source said the meeting was also attended by other members and it was decided to plan a visit of the crime scene in Wazirabad, take custody of the prime suspect who fired shots and also record statements of witnesses.
He said that the JIT meeting also discussed many other possible leads to trace the true culprits behind the failed assassination attempt on the former premier. He said the medical examination reports of injured Imran Khan and other persons would also be examined at the next meeting.