DASKA - Protests erupted in several cities across Punjab after two lawyers including Daska Bar Association President Rana Khalid Abbas were killed and another sustained critical wounds on Monday during a clash between protesting black coats and police in Daska tehsil of Sialkot district.

Lawyers staged protest demonstrations against the killings in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur which later spread to Gujranwala and Lahore, with Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) calling a province-wide strike. Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has also announced a country-wide strike on Tuesday (today) and three-day mourning.

As per details, in Daska city, a local lawyer Aamir Shehzad Bajwa visited record room of Daska Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) to get a copy of a Nikkah Nama from there. Record keeper Farooq Ahmed allegedly misbehaved with the lawyer. The lawyer called in his some other colleagues and manhandled TMA employees and staff including Khalid Pervaiz (president Employees Association TMA Daska) at the TMA office located in front of the Daska City Police Station.

Police were called in by Daska TMA officials. On seeing this, lawyers, led by President Daska Bar Association Rana Khalid Abbas, started abusing and cursing Daska police. The lawyers kept on chanting slogans against Daska police asking them to kill them (lawyers) if they had courage to do so.

SHO Daska City Police Station Inspector Shehzad Warraich became infuriated and opened fire on the protesting lawyers due to which three lawyers - President Daska Bar Association Rana Khalid Hassan, advocates Irfan Chohan and Zohaib Sahi - sustained bullet injuries on their chests, while a passerby Shehbaz Masih also received bullet injuries on his legs and arms.

The injured lawyers were taken to Daska DHQ Civil Hospital where Rana Khalid Abbas succumbed to his injuries while the other injured lawyer Irfan Chohan also expired on way to Lahore Mayo Hospital. The condition of the wounded lawyer Zohaib Sahi and passerby Shehbaz Masih was stated to be critical at Daska Civil Hospital.

After the incident, the outraged lawyers came out on roads and staged protest demonstrations in Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur, besides Lahore and Gujranwala.

In Daska city, the black coats besieged Daska Police Station, offices of DSP Daska and Assistant Commissioner Daska. The lawyers pelted stones at police station for several hours. They lodged anti-police demonstration by placing bodies of the slain lawyers at congested Civil Hospital Chowk. Black coats refused to get the bodies’ autopsy be conducted.

They blocked traffic on almost all the inter-city roads by burning tyres including at Fawara Chowk, Kutchery Chowk, Civil Rest House Chowk, Civil Hospital Chowk. Main Sialkot-Daska-Gujranwala Road also remained blocked for several hours.

The besieged Daska Police Station officials continued firing tear gas on lawyers to disperse them.

Later, the outraged local lawyers set ablaze offices of TMA Daska and deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Daska. They also burnt complete official record of Daska TMA and Daska DSP offices.

The lawyers attacked the residence of Daska Assistant Commissioner Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhoon located at Civil Rest House Daska. They also bunt TMS’s official car (STF-3400).

This situation also sent a panic wave among locals and students of adjacent Govt Postgraduate College for Women Daska, where several girl students fell unconscious due to this massive use of tear gas by Daska police. The tear gas shells also wounded two other local lawyers.

In Daska city, all the banks, shops, markets, bazaars, shopping centers were closed down after the incident.

In Sialkot, lawyers besieged offices of Sialkot DPO and DCO. They also staged sit-ins, besides besieging offices of local administration.

Meanwhile, the Daska city police have registered a double-murder case against accused Inspector Shehzad Warraich and five other accused cops under sections 302, 324, 149 and 148 of the PPC and 7-ATA.

Police claimed to have arrested the accused Inspector Shehzad Warraich.

Separately, Commissioner Gujranwala Division Shamail Ahmed Khawaja and District and Sessions Judge Sialkot Shahid Rafiq visited Daska city in the evening and examined the prevailing situation in city.

All the local elected representatives including MNA Sahibzada Syed Iftikharul Hassan Shah and Sialkot District Police Officer (DPO) Dr Shehzad Asif visited the spot and expressed complete solidarity with lawyers. They strongly condemned killing of lawyers by Daska police. The MNA and Sialkot DPO assured them that all the responsible police officials would be brought to task and justice would be done in this regard.

The lawyers community has announced a three-day mourning across Punjab.

The TMA Daska officials, beaten up badly by the infuriated lawyers, locked all the TMA offices in Daska to protest the manhandling by black coats.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif taking notice of the killings of two Daska-based senior lawyers by Daska police, has ordered a probe into the matter and sought a detailed inquiry report from Punjab government within 24 hours.

The premier, while strongly condemning the tragedy, said all the responsible would be brought to task. He said no one would be allowed to take law into hands. The PM, however, said that burning of private and government properties was totally unacceptable in this regard.

The President has also condemned the Daska incident.

Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has also taken serious notice of the incident and ordered early arrest of the accused police officials, besides directing a strict legal action against the accused police Inspector Shehzad Warraich.

The chief minister has ordered a judicial inquiry into the ghastly Daska tragedy.

The CM has also formulated a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe into the matter, saying no one was above the law and all the responsible accused police officials would be brought to task, in this regard.

Former provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah has termed the tragedy as a result of ‘madness’ of a police inspector.

Monitoring adds: Lawyers set the assistant commissioner’s house on fire. He and his family members were not present in the house, according to reports.