LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday admitted for hearing a petition requesting the court to stop an official Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from holding investigation into the Sahiwal killings and to form a judicial commission to probe the carnage instead.

After hearing the petition has been filed Sahiwal tragedy victim Khalil’s brother Jalil against the formation of JIT, issued notices to Punjab chief minister and the police chief for February 4. A two-member bench headed by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Khan will hear the petition.

The Counterterrorism Department (CTD) officials had killed four people, including a couple, their daughter and a friend, in a shootout on GT Road near Sahiwal last month.

The petitioner cited Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Punjab Inspector General (IG) Amjad Javed Saleemi parties in the plea.

The petitioner pleads that a false FIR was registered after the fake encounter to label the victims as terrorists. Nevertheless, another FIR was launched against the CTD personnel following a nationwide outcry and protests launched by the citizens against the brutal killings.

Even in the second FIR, the facts had been distorted so as to give margin to killers to go scot free. He contended that the accused involved in the killings were law enforcement agency’s big guns were and the JIT made by the government could not reach a just decision.

He also said various Punjab ministers had been changing their statements on the issue which strengthens the suspicion that they were in connivance with the accused or have ill-will pertaining to the dispensation of justice to the aggrieved family.

The petitioner pleaded that no recovery had been made so far from the apprehended CTD officials which reflected indifference on part of the team giving margin to the accused in the case. He also said that the JIT had not yet provided him with even a copy of the police file despite repeated requests.

He submitted that the constitution of a judicial commission was critical because of non-seriousness of the government to provide justice for the aggrieved family.

He submitted that an order be passed for the formation of a judicial commission under section 3 of Punjab Tribunals of Inquiry Ordinance 1969 or under section 3 of Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 2017 to probe the Sahiwal incident. He also pleaded that the JIT be declared illegal.

The Sahiwal incident had triggered a nationwide outcry that prompted the government to take the security officials into custody and form the JIT to probe the incident.

The CTD officials earlier claimed that the operation was conducted to capture an ‘Islamic State (IS) commander’ on a tip-off by an intelligence agency. But later the accused policemen claimed that they had to open fire in retaliation. They are of the view that some “terrorists riding a motorcycle had first opened fired at them.

The Punjab government is of the view that Zeeshan who was traveling with the family and also killed in the police attack had links to Daesh and was “working with terrorists