In his report, Justice Najafi recalls that, during the June 16 meeting, Sanaullah was told that the PAT was seeking to overthrow the government and bring a “revolution”, which Sanaullah made clear that Qadri would not be allowed to achieve.
A damning appraisal of events
The commissioner Lahore is then said to have briefed the minister about the barriers placed on roads around the PAT-run Minhajul Quran Academy, which were technically illegal and could be considered and treated as encroachments by the authorities.
Going by Justice Najafi’s account, Sanaullah seems to have seized on this ‘excuse’ to disperse the PAT supporters from Minhajul Quran’s vicinity.
It was “decided to remove them [the encroachments] with immediate effect,” Justice Najafi writes.“Dr Tauqeer Shah also consented on behalf of the Chief Minister, Punjab, [Shahbaz Sharif] for the removal of the barriers,” he sates, hinting at the possible involvement of the provincial chief executive.
The police were sent over to take action. They reached the spot around midnight of June 16, 2014 to execute their orders, but “the furious mob and [PAT] sympathisers commenced pelting stones on police”, reads the report.
“The police, as [a] retaliatory measure, resorted to firing towards the protesters, leaving many persons injured at the site of the incident […] some of whom succumbed to their injuries afterward,” the report states.
Justice Najafi observes that the “level of offensive” used by police was not “by any stretch of imagination” commensurate with the resistance offered by the “unarmed PAT workers”.
He also regrets that the non cooperation of the police in helping him dig out the truth. “[…] No police official from top to bottom, whether those who actively participated in the operation or not, […] uttered a single word about the person under whose command the police resorted to firing upon the PAT workers,” he writes.
“Understandably, all [police officials] were in unison in withholding the information from this tribunal… unfortunately, such are the facts and circumstances under which 14 persons have been shot,” Justice Najafi states.
The judge also notes that the order to open fire must have been given specifically by an officer of the police not below the rank of an Assistant Superintendent or Deputy Superintendent of Police, according to Section 128 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.
“The tribunal, therefore, remained conscious of the deliberate silence and concealment of facts by police officials/officers […] creating circumstances to think that the police had to abide by the command announced secretly (or openly) to achieve the target at the cost of even killing the unarmed but precious citizens of Pakistan.”
“This led the tribunal to say that this motif of betrayal of law by the police aimed at burying the truth speaks volumes of their high handedness,” he states.
More worryingly, Justice Najafi recalls that when the federal government was asked why the Punjab police chief and DCO Lahore were changed in the run-up to the Model Town “bloodbath”, he did not receive any satisfactory response. “Such facts and circumstances obviously lead to an adverse opinion,” his report states.
There is more for the casual observer to wonder about: “The day (Jun 17, 2014) and time (between 10.30am to 12pm) both are very vital as the IG Punjab did not practically take over the command of Punjab Police [by then] and at the same time the honourable new chief justice was about to take oath. Had this tribunal been empowered to investigate, the hidden truth [regarding the government’s behind-the-scenes machinations] might have been exposed,” Justice Najafi writes.