South Asia

SC slams Islamabad police over court attack

As lawyers launched a three-day strike all over Pakistan, the Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Islamabad police and the administration for failing to prevent and tackle the terror attack on the district and sessions court on Monday. It ordered the installation of high-resolution CCTV cameras there within 48 hours apart from securing the three entrances.

A three-judge bench after hearing lawyers who said the response of the police was lukewarm and there was reluctance to fire on the attackers, and the Inspector-General Islamabad Sikandar Hayat, the chief commissioner Jawad Paul and interior secretary Dr. Shahid ordered all of them to file statements.

On Monday after the attack, the chief justice took suo motu notice and asked for a report from the administration and summoned the three top officials. Dr. Shahid admitted all three security gates of the court were dysfunctional and no CCTV cameras were installed on the premises. The court asked him to file a statement before the next hearing on Monday on how many police were posted, how many were present and how many fired on the attackers. The court also asked the lawyers who were eyewitnesses to file statements on what they had seen.

Lawyers present said the police refused to fire claiming their guns were out of order and that if they fired the terrorists would come towards them. The bench also ordered compensation to be paid to the victims' families.

Earlier, the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Tassaduq Jilani, Khilji Arif Hussain and Azmat Saeed Sheikh raised questions on the number of police deployed at the court and how many had fired their guns. While 66 policemen were on duty, only 47 were present and not all were armed. Dr. Shahid said two policemen fired at one of the suicide bombers. To pointed questions on how many policemen fired and how many rounds were fired, Mr. Hayat couldn't give satisfactory answers. The court said this showed the level of interest as the IG was not in a position to give facts.

The bench said there were intelligence reports that Islamabad was under threat but there were no CCTV cameras in the court complex and the security gates were non functional. Lawyers present in the court said the police were almost an hour late in coming. Dr. Shahid said that the reaction time was seven to ten minutes. The bench said if the police reached in that time, then the firing would not have gone on for 45 minutes and the terrorists would not have fled the scene.

Nadeem Hasan, president of the Islamabad High Court Bar told the court that he was eyewitness to the incident and police came after 45 minutes. A senior police officer turned up around 11 am in casual clothing, lawyers said. A month earlier they had also informed the police about lack of security. The Chief Justice observed that there was no accountability in this country and people were paying taxes so that the police can protect them.

Mr. Hayat said he got to know of the firing at 9.07 and reached there at 9.30 am. He said there were two attackers who killed themselves and possibly one more. The Chief Justice said the IG didn't even know the exact number of attackers and he should have issued a public statement on the incident.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 1:08:15 AM |

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