LAHORE - Former Law Minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday confessed before the tribunal holding inquiry of the Model Town tragedy which left at least 15 people dead and 85 others injured, that he had ordered the government machinery to remove barriers outside the Minhaaj Secretariat.

Sanaullah also divulged that after the telephone call of the then Principal Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Dr Tauqir Shah on June 17 at 9:00 am, he asked the Capital City Police Officer to control the situation.

One-judge tribunal comprising Justice Ali Baqar Najfi is holding the proceedings to get at the facts regarding the unfortunate incident. 

Dr Tauqir Shah in his statement said that the incident of Model Town had come into the knowledge of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on June 17 at 9:30 am. Dr Tauqir Shah while giving his statements before the tribunal seemed to be in a great hurry.

Dr Tauqir said that Shahbaz Sharif expressed his annoyance for not taking him into confidence over the incident and removal of barriers outside the Minhajul Quran and issued directions to withdraw police from the area.

He told the tribunal that he had informed the former Law Minister about the reservations of the Chief Minister at 11:20 am on the same day.

Former Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and former Principal Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Dr Tauqir Shah also submitted their sworn affidavits before the tribunal.

Commissioner Lahore Division, Home Secretary Punjab and former Lahore CCPO Ch Shafiq Gujjar also submitted their reports.

Rashid Mahmood Langrial, Commissioner of Lahore division, filed his reply and read it out on the orders of the tribunal. He said that Minister for Law had ordered for removal of the barriers.

Informing the tribunal, he said activists of Minhajul Quran did not let the authorities remove these barriers and started pelting stones at the forces. He said they tried to resolve the matter through dialogue but in vain. “Later on, I was informed that many civilians and policemen have been injured in the incident”, he added.

Home Secretary submitted that the Law Minister asked for removal of the barriers and in the beginning, situation was not tense while the Secretary to CM was also informed about it.

Home Secretary further said that he directed the DIG police and DCO to resolve the matter peacefully through negotiations.

After some time, the DIG told him that police was subjected to firing, stone pelting and petrol bombs were being thrown on them. At 2:30pm, the Home Secretary said, he was informed that one man was shot dead but later he was informed that 10 people lost their lives and many others were injured including civilians and policemen. He said FIR was registered on the complaint of Faisal Town SHO.

He stated a Joint Investigation Team had also been constituted which was holding investigation into the matter.

Police officials including the former Capital City Police Officer said that the injured people were not willing to appear before the tribunal. Former CCPO Lahore Shafique Gujjar submitted his report and requested the judge to hold in camera proceedings as the report had sensitive information which was accepted by the tribunal.

Through out the proceedings, the judge did not raise the vital question as to who had ordered the police to open firing at the unarmed protesters.

The proceedings were adjourned till Tuesday (today).

Earlier, the judge while holding proceedings remarked that he was not there to fix responsibility into the matter as he wanted to dig out the truth behind it. The judge gave these remarks while responding to an objection raised by an Advocate over proceedings of the tribunal stating that the proceedings are illegal and unconstitutional because the aggrieved party was not part of the proceedings.

He said he had filed three applications in this regard, but to no avail.

The judge and the lawyer exchanged hot words and the former had to reprimand the counsel for making him quite. The judge observed that when system does not deliver, the people pin hopes on judiciary.

The lawyers also gave their suggestions and the atmosphere of proceedings was disturbed as lawyers of PML-N exchanged hot words with another lawyer when asked the tribunal to stop its proceedings.