Pak: Probe ordered in Bahawalnagar "stand-off" between army, police personnel

Apr 13, 2024

Lahore [Pakistan], April 13 : The Punjab government and Pakistan Army have initiated transparent investigations into a purported "face-off" between police and army personnel in Bahawalnagar, Dawn reported.
The incident, which unfolded over the Eid holidays and garnered attention on social media, prompted swift action from authorities.
Four personnel from Madressah police, including the station house officer, were arrested on charges of illegal detention, dereliction of duty, and misuse of authority. Additionally, the Maroot police SHO has been suspended pending a departmental inquiry for disseminating "misinformation" on social media, as reported by Dawn.
Inspector Saifullah Hanif filed an FIR with Madressah police on April 10, alleging that former SI/SHO Rizwan Abbas, ASI Mohammad Naeem, constables Mohammad Abbas, and Ali Raza unlawfully detained Mohammad Khalil and Mohammad Idrees, along with their father Mohammad Anwar. Instead of presenting them before a magistrate, the accused policemen reportedly kept them detained at the police station for over 24 hours.
According to police sources, cited by Dawn, ASI Naeem and SHO Rizwan Abbas raided Mohammad Anwar's residence on April 7 to arrest his son Rafaqat for possessing an unlicensed pistol. Mohammad Khaleel, an army official and Anwar's son, along with his brother Idrees and other family members, allegedly took the two policemen hostage.
A video of the incident circulated on social media.
A police team later intervened, freeing the hostages and arresting Mohammad Anwar and his sons Khalil and Idrees. However, police officers subjected the family to alleged torture and ransacked their house, a video of which also went viral.
Subsequently, the Bahawalnagar district police officer initiated an inquiry upon learning about the detention of an army officer, his father, and brother. Finding the accused policemen guilty, the DPO registered a case against them, leading to their arrest, according to Dawn.
Despite the incident being resolved before April 10, a "malicious" social media campaign exacerbated tensions. The situation escalated after Eid prayers when army personnel allegedly stormed the A Division police station, where the imprisoned policemen were severely tortured.
Expressing dismay over the incident, an inspector-ranked official condemned the army's actions, stating that the policemen were unfairly targeted for taking action against an army man.
Bahawalnagar DPO Naseebullah Khan addressed the misinformation spread on social media, emphasising the need for accurate reporting. A joint inquiry team has been formed by the Punjab government to investigate the incident thoroughly.
In a video statement, Punjab police chief Usman Anwar condemned the negative social media campaign, refuting claims of delayed response and asserting that both the Punjab police and army have taken steps to address the situation, Dawn reported.