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Okara remains ‘a hard nut to crack’ for dist police

Okara remains ‘a hard nut to crack’ for dist police

LAHORE: Faisal Ali Rana is the fifth Okara district police officer who is being given a tough time by local pressure groups, in this case the lawyers, with all his predecessors getting transferred “prematurely” following agitation.

The local lawyers have expanded the scope of their two-week long protest against the DPO and his three colleagues from the district to the province, demanding his transfer for lodging a criminal case against two of their fellow black coats.

While Okara District Bar Association managed to win the support of two important bodies of lawyers -- Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) and Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) -- against the district police, the DPO has apparently been left in the lurch by higher police hierarchy.

A senior police official in the provincial headquarters told Dawn the situation in Okara district was heading from bad to worse due to two-week agitation, including protests and strikes, that almost paralysed life in the city.

Earlier, he said, at least four ex-DPOs -- Dr Haider Ashraf, Babar Bakht Qureshi, Bilal Siddique Kamyana and Dr Raja Abid -- faced similar sort of odds while they were posted at Okara. All of them were ultimately transferred after the authorities concerned buckled under pressure from some local groups, including lawyers, politicians and Anjuman Muzareen Punjab (AMP) military farms tenants over various issues.

In the latest episode, the official said, Okara DBA launched an agitation against DPO Rana after he ordered a case against two lawyers -- Mohammad Tayyab and Rao Abid, under Anti-terrorism Act (ATA) for allegedly subjecting elderly Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Mohsin to torture on the premises of local courts.

The ASI, who is going to retire in a month, was investigating a property case on the direction of a civil court wherein both Advocate Mohammad Tayyab and a citizen were claiming the ownership of a five-marla piece of land.

The ASI, during investigation, found the claim of the other party (a private citizen) justified, which obviously irked the lawyer.

Later, the ASI was allegedly subjected to torture by lawyers when he appeared in the court in connection with the case.

The matter was brought into the knowledge of the district police high-ups, headed by DPO Rana who got a case lodged against two lawyers, Tayyab and Rao Abid, on March 17. The next day, the police arrested one of the suspects.

The arrest of the lawyer pitched the local legal fraternity against the district police. On the DBA’s call local lawyers went on a strike, demanding the DPO’s transfer.

Meanwhile, the district and sessions judge, on the application of the “affected” lawyer on March 18 issued order for lodging a criminal case against top police administration, including DPO Rana, Investigation SP Ameer Saud Magsi, DSP Ziaul Haq and Sadar police SHO Abdullah Pasha.

The police officials were accused of raiding house of the lawyer with arms. The very next day, an anti-terrorism court granted bail to the accused lawyer.

The official said the DPO and his colleagues got upset when the court ordered FIR against them “without even hearing them”.

The DPO, through a letter, apprised the Punjab police inspector general and the Member Inspection Team, Lahore High Court, that he was not heard by the local court while issuing order for lodging an FIR against him and his colleagues.

He stated in the letter that local Justice of Peace passed the order without seeking report from police. “The district judiciary failed to perform its role in providing justice to government functionaries and encouraged law violators under unseen pressure of a group”, the DPO said in the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

In the stand-off, the DPO was supported by local traders’ bodies, student organisations and civil society members who took out rallies declaring Mr Rana ‘crime fighter cop’.

Citing cases of some former DPOs, the official said, Raja Abid, during his posting at Okara had reportedly arrested a notorious drug smuggler from Basirpur, earning wrath of two local parliamentarians who got him transferred to “pacify their voters”.

Similarly, Dr Haider Ashraf came under a cloud after he arrested an AMP leader on court directions. An agitation launched by the tenants led to law and order situation in the district. After a few months of unrest, Dr Haider was finally transferred.

The official said Bilal Siddique Kamyana was caught in trouble when two rivals -- lawyers and students -- scuffled over a “petty issue”. After a 40-day agitation, Mr Kamyana was also transferred.

An armed clash between a security agency officials and local tenants had put DPO Babar Bakht Qureshi in serious trouble and resulted in his transfer.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2016

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