FAISALABAD: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah offered to prove his innocence before Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri over the killing of 14 PAT activists during Model Town anti-encroachment drive in June 2014.
The incident on June 17, 2014, had claimed lives of at least 14 people and left over 100 others injured during an ‘anti-encroachment operation’ by Punjab Police outside Idara Minhajul Quran in Lahore’s Model Town.
“It was an incident, which neither had any planning, nor did anyone order police to shoot protesters,” Rana told newsmen. “I invite Tahirul Qadri to sit with us and record statement after swearing on the Holy Quran.”
Urging the PAT chief to speak on oath regarding the incident, he said they were also ready to prove their innocence.
The PAT chief blames the Punjab government for the Model Town killings.
“This isn’t the first time we have been demanded to step down; efforts to create instability have been ongoing for past four-and-a-half years,” the provincial minister said, maintaining that protest sit-ins, long march and rallies were all aimed at preventing development in the country.
He said the nation has come to know of the reality of such people and his party would defeat the “conspiring forces” through vote in the next elections.
Rana urged that those killed in Model Town incident should not be used for politics.
Confirming his meetings with PAT leader Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, he said the PAT leader also came to Model Town to meet him. “The matter could not be settled with Gandapur; we want to compensate relatives of Model Town victims.”
He further said they discussed compensation after approval by the Punjab chief minister.
The minister said he has immense respect for Pir Hameeduddin Sialvi, adding that a few individuals have been using Pir Sialvi and other scholars for the sake of politics.
Criticising the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), he said Imran Khan would retire from politics in 2018.
“Khan would tell tales to kids that once upon a time he stayed inside a container for 126 days,” Rana said. “He would also tell them how he once demanded resignation from the PM.”
Model Town report
The Punjab government, at the behest of the Lahore High Court, had made the report of the Model Town incident public on December 5.
The inquiry report, prepared by Justice Baqir Najfi commission, says that police tried to cover up the facts regarding who gave orders to open fire on protesters.
It adds that no legal opinion was sought from the Punjab advocate general prior to the start of the operation.
The commission, in its report, also stated that on the ground, the standoff continued the whole night, resulting in minor injuries to police constables as well as PAT workers.
It was after 9am that the DIG Operation arrived at the site, who called the SPs of different divisions of Lahore, and as a result the policemen started increasing in response to the swelling up of the PAT activists, the report says.
The commission observed: “The level of cooperation in digging out the truth is that no police official from top to bottom, whether actively participated in the operation or not, did utter a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers.”
Further, in its conclusion, the commission said, “It is shocking to note that everyone has deliberately but unsuccessfully tried to cover each other from possibly adverse legal effects.”