RAWALPINDI - Chakwal police says it captured a private car with fake Pakistan Army registration number plate and monogram at a picket placed in Chak Umra village, moments before Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was due to visit Ramazan Sasta Bazaar in the locality on Thursday.

The car driver however managed to dodge police and fled away while leaving the car behind after a brief chase by police team, reliable sources confided to The Nation here on Friday. The incident sparked panic among security officials and district administration which started a hunt for the car driver but they have failed to arrest or even identify him.

A team of Pakistan Army including officers of secret agencies reached Chakwal and joined police in investigation of the case. Interestingly, Chakwal DPO Dr Moheen, Saddar Police SHO Syed Naseer Ahmed Shah and sub inspector Nazar Hayyat, who is also investigating the case, were not on same page regarding the make of the car and reluctant to share the details with this scribe.

All these three police officers lost their tempers when asked if it could be an attempt of terrorists to target Punjab CM upon his arrival in Chakwal and had any explosive material or weapons were recovered from the vehicle by police.

The CM and other stalwarts of Nawaz League were out to woo Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who is annoyed with the party leadership, and also visiting Ramazan Sasta Bazaars in the division to review the situation there. CM's Chakwal visit was part of it.

According to sources, a police team, headed by SI Nazar Hayyat, was on routine checking at a picket in Chak Umra village on Rawalpindi-Chakwal Road when they spotted a suspicious car bearing Pakistan Army registration number (124396) and they signalled it to stop. The driver did not stop and sped away. As the police chased him, he abandoned the car and fled away.

Chakwal DPO Dr Moeen, when phoned by this scribe, confirmed the incident and said, "Police seized a Toyota Vitz car bearing fake Army number plate but the driver managed to escape from the scene".

When asked whether it was an attempt to target CM or had police found any explosive material; and had they got any clue about the driver, the DPO got infuriated and said, "Don't interfere into police matters and let the police complete its investigations". He said that he has no knowledge about CM's visit to Chakwal. Then, he disconnected the call.

SI Nazar Hayyat, during a chat, said that the fleeing driver was a hardcore criminal and involved in several robberies in the district. "The criminal loots people in Army uniform," he said, adding that the Vitz recovered by police was snatched by the accused from a man along with Rs200,000 on gunpoint. He also snubbed this scribe and told to come to police station in Chakwal to get more information and then disconnected the call.

PS Saddar SHO Syed Naseer Ahmed Shah, when contacted, said that police took in custody an abandoned Toyota Corolla 2006 model car a few yards from police picket, clearly denying the claims of DPO and SI that a Vitz was recovered. He said it was a very sensitive issue and a team of Pakistan Army officers had come to Chakwal to join the police investigation team. Police had registered a case, he said.

The SHO too kept his lips tight and in fact misbehaved with the scribe when he was asked if police recovered any explosives or weapons; or if it had identified the fleeing driver. Regional Police Officer (RPO) Akhtar Umar Hayyat Lalayka was not available for his comments.