LAHORE - While the federal agencies have failed to arrest Rao Anwar of Sindh Police, his likes in the Punjab Police have also disappeared to skip investigation into an extrajudicial killing.

The team probing Mudassir’s murder in Kasur has revealed in its findings that the police officers involved in that staged shooting are at large. Reportedly, the team submitted its report to a court last week.

According to the report, the police officers including the then district police officer Ali Nasir Rizvi did not respond to repeated call notices.

The inquiry committee also noted that the police did not involve forensic experts for DNA test of the accused in six-year-old Iman Fatima murder case. Hence, the 23-year-old Mudassir who was killed in police action was proved innocent.

Police officer SSP Rao Anwar had disappeared soon after an investigation report revealed that Naqeebullah Mahsud was killed in a staged shooting. Similarly, SSP Ali Nasir Rizvi and his team went missing as the high-powered team began probe into Mudassir’s killing in similar police encounter.

Earlier, investigation of Zainab murder case had uncovered that Mudassir was not involved in the rape and murder of Iman Fatima. The DNA tests revealed that Zainab was killed by serial killer Imran Ali who had raped and murdered at least seven Kasur girls, including five-year-old Iman Fatima, since 2015. But police killed a young man, Mudassir, in Iman’s case early last year. Mudassir was shot dead by police just days after he was arrested in connection with rape and murder of five-year-old Iman Fatima. The police claimed the suspect had tried to flee when he was killed.

Also, DNA tests suggested that Mudassir was not the killer of Iman Fatima. The traces of the DNA found on the bodies of all seven victims matched those of Imran Ali arrested by police for raping and murdering Zainab early this month.

Police sources say the victim family was being pressed by some policemen for settlement. But, a member of the investigation team said the officers involved in this murder case would have to face the trial even if they are pardoned by the complainant.

The Punjab Police have failed to trace the whereabouts of the then DPO and the SHO who are still at large. However, a DSP rank police officer was being investigated in connection with the fake police shooting.

The parents of Mudassir were running from pillar to post to get justice. The family had to relocate for safety as locals boycotted them, thanks to the police for killing a “wrong suspect” in a horrific crime.

A member of Mudassir’s family told reporters that the police shot and killed Mudassir just to cool down public anger because the latest child rape and murder case had sparked protests in the town last year.

 “Mudassir was produced before the DPO (district police officer) at his office shortly before the shooting in which he was killed. He had confessed to the crime only to get rid of brutal police torture. Mudassir was innocent. The DNA report has confirmed this now,” Mudassir’s relative said.

According to insiders, a district police officer and a station house officer were among several policemen who had decided the fate of Mudassir, last year. They say the lower-subordinates in police can’t even think of executing criminals in fake encounters. In fact, they said, fake police encounters are carried out with the consent and on the orders of the top police officers, including district and regional police officers.

Police sources revealed that the joint Investigation team consisting of police investigators and intelligence operatives had decided to reopen the case of Iman Fatima. Also, at least seven policemen were summoned by the JIT in connection with the killing of Mudassir last week. However, no senior police officer has been asked to appear before the JIT so far.

Zainab’s rape and murder case triggered countrywide protests and brought international condemnations this month. Thousands of people took to streets to protest the latest killing in Kasur soon after the police found the body on a heap of garbage. Two protesters were killed and several others wounded as police opened fire on the mob to disperse the protesters.

In January, Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, in an interview with The Nation, condemned the police shooting that left two protesters dead and seven others wounded.

Asked about the killings of a few alleged child murderers in police custody, the official said they were investigating a specific case in which the police “incorrectly” shot and killed a suspect.

The practice of extrajudicial killings, also dubbed here as police encounters, is quite common in this province. At least 269 alleged criminals were killed in 239 “police encounters” last year across the Punjab province. In 2016, the police had killed 340 alleged criminals in 291 encounters.

More than 450 suspects were shot dead by police during at least 359 shootouts across the province in 2015. Police sources describe 2015 as the year of “police encounters” in the history of Punjab Police. The figures were almost double if compared to 2014 when at least 259 suspects were shot and killed in 267 armed encounters. The police had killed 360 alleged criminals in a total of 397 encounters reported across the province in 2012. However, in 2011, at least 127 alleged criminals were killed in shootouts with the law enforcing agency.

Although police had killed hundreds of criminals during the last five years yet there was no let up in incidents of heinous crimes reported this year in Punjab. For instance, the provincial police registered at least 405,895 cases of crime in 2017 against 408,283 cases reported in 2016.