By Mohammad Asghar & Munawer Azeem: Dawn, June 20, 2007
ISLAMABAD, June 19: Around 1,300 personnel of Punjab Constabulary (PC), called to reinforce the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police to handle the Lal Masjid crisis, demonstrated in the Aabpara Chowk on Tuesday in protest against the death of a colleague.
It was the first protest in Islamabad by a large number of police personnel against their officers. They also got a case registered against them.
A senior police official of the ICT confirmed that three police personnel, a deputy superintendent of police, a reserve inspector (RI) of the Punjab Constabulary and a constable of the Rescue 15 Islamabad, who according to protesters was making video films, were injured after being beaten up by the protesters.
Two separate cases were registered -- one against PC Superintendent of Police (SP) Ashraf Gujar and RI Mohammad Ilyas and the other against the protesters. The number of protesters (PC personnel) booked by the Aabpara police has not been mentioned in the FIR. Mohammad Ilyas was arrested following the registration of case against him.
The unrest started on Tuesday morning when PC Constable Imam Baksh of Khushab died after a brief illness. Hearing the news, nearly 1,200 PC personnel, who had been staying in CDA flats in G-6 since the beginning of the Lal Masjid crisis, came out and began marching towards the Aabpara Chowk. Before leaving, they reportedly beat up their DSP and RI.
The protesters, some of them carrying sticks, were shouting slogans against their officers, gathered at the Aabpara Chowk causing a traffic jam for several hours. They forced shopkeepers to close their shops.
Rawalpindi CPO Moravat Ali Shah and district administration officials reached the place and tried to persuade the protesters to disperse peacefully. Contingents of riot police also arrived.
The protesters were demanding registration of a case against their SP and RI and lifting of ban on their leave.
A constable, who identified himself as Shafqat, told Dawn: “The deceased constable had been requesting for leave as he was not feeling well. But, he was neither allowed to go to a hospital nor he was given first aid.”
He added: “Since the day when we had been brought here we have not been allowed to see our families. We have no water, no fans and even latrines are chocked. We have to go to a shrine across the road for a bath. There are 12 cooks to prepare meal for 1,300 persons.”
The protesters dispersed peacefully after they were assured that their demands would be met.
A senior official said that an amount of Rs2 million has been granted as compensation for the family of the deceased and the 1,300 PC personnel would get 10-day leave.