Police shoot at two motorcyclists for not stopping at picket, try to frame them as terrorists

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on May 19, 2014.

Islamabad – The capital police allegedly tried to pin a terrorism charge on two innocent motorcycle riders on Sunday to save its own skin, but had to back off after locals and political workers intervened.

The incident occurred at the police picket on the I J Principal Road near Sector I-9/4. Police constables from the Industrial Area police station shot at a motorcyclist and a pillion rider, and missed, after the motorcycle did not stop at a police picket.

But the police constable involved in the incident allegedly only shouted at the motorcyclist to stop after he had already moved past the picket.

The firing by the armed constables missed the motorcycle riders. The constables then pursued the motorcycle. The motorcyclist lived nearby at the New Katarian neighbourhood of Rawalpindi on the I J Principal Road and police caught up with him outside his house.

There, according to eyewitnesses, police tried to arrest the motorcycle rider and his passenger. But the two men claimed they had not heard the police officers and that they had simply driven on towards their nearby residence.

The neighbourers gathered at the scene when they sensed the police might be unfairly accusing the men of being terrorists. The constables also called for reinforcements from their police station. According to eyewitnesses, the Station House Officer (SHO) Qasim Niazi also arrived at the scene in plainclothes.

Area locals said police were adamant they will arrest the men. But the neighbours accused the police of framing the men and when a local leader intervened, locals said, policemen became defensive and said no one had been hurt by the shots fired.

When The Express Tribune contacted Niazi for comment, he said he was getting a briefing on the issue from the constables. But he refused to answer what made the policemen think the two men were terrorists. “I am busy at the moment,” Niazi said, before hanging up the phone.

Policemen posted at pickets in the twin cities are often criticised by the public for their languid and random attitude towards checking passing vehicles. Police personnel usually stop motorcyclists to check their registration documents.

But sometimes they fail to flag down the motorcyclists in time, as it apparently happened on Sunday afternoon. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, and his predecessor Rehman Malik, have been known to have suspended police personnel deployed for duty at police pickets in Islamabad on the grounds of laziness.

According to police sources, when a policeman discharges a duty weapon, the policeman has to submit a report to the police station’s section which issues ammunition to the cops. The record of the ammunition fired is maintained.

In cases such as the one on Sunday, the constables are most likely to submit a report that they tried to stop the motorcyclists at the picket and fired at them on the suspicion that the men were criminals.

Further inquiry into the conduct of the constables and pursuance of pressing charges against the men police claimed to be suspects depends on senior police officials, police sources said.

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