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LHC orders government to release Model Town tragedy report

On July 17, 2014, 14 people were killed and 100 others wounded when the Punjab police opened fire to scatter protesting Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers

Gulf News

Islamabad: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ordered the Punjab government on Thursday to make public the judicial inquiry report into the Model Town killings.

LHC has directed the authorities to release the report by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi on the killings of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (Pat) workers during the 2014 incident in Lahore.

The court order was read out by Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi while hearing a petition by the families of those killed.

On July 17, 2014, 14 people were killed and 100 others wounded when the Punjab police opened fire to scatter protesting Pat workers during an anti-encroachment operation outside the residence of Pat chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.

The report by Justice Najafi, according to media sources, holds the government responsible for the tragic incident.

Hailing the court directive, Qadri said: “Today’s judgement is the first step forward in dispensation of justice for the Model Town massacre”, adding that Pat has been “struggling for justice for the last three years.”

Following the orders, Pat has demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, saying he is responsible for the carnage.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore on Thursday, the chief demanded that all those responsible and named in the case should be placed on the Exit Control List.

Calling for immediate release of the report, Qadri said that if the Chief Minister had not been involved in the incident, the report would have been released earlier.

Qadri vowed to go to any extent for getting justice for the victims.

Qadri has continuously demanded that the report be made public, telling Shahbaz Sharif not to be afraid if he is not responsible for the tragedy.

Barrister Ali Zafar, while arguing on behalf of victims’ relatives, maintained that releasing the inquiry report was a matter of public interest since the government was bound under law to provide the required information to the public.

He further proclaimed that the report was in government custody, but even after a lapse of three years, the government had been refusing to make it public.

Talking to the media, Law Minister of Punjab Rana Sanullah said that the case is still being heard by the court and the report cannot be made public until then. “If the court deems fit it can make the report public”, he said. He said Qadri was using the incident for political means.

Shahbaz Sharif summoned an important meeting soon after the Court order, and has decided to challenge the LHC’s verdict to make the report public, according to media reports.

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