LAHORE - Dozens of villagers yesterday staged a strong protest demonstration outside the Lahore Press Club and demanded justice in a murder case.

Several residents of village Khatiala Virkan located near Muridke gathered in front of the press club and protested against the Sheikhupura police for protecting the suspects nominated as killers in a murder case.

They also demanded the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Punjab chief minister, and inspector general of police to ensure merit-based investigations into the murder case since the local police are backing the criminals.

The hour-long protest caused worst traffic mess in the busy locality as protesters including women and children blocked the road to condemn the police highhandedness.

One of the protesters told The Nation that his relative Muqaddas Shah was shot dead outside his house in village Khatiala Virkan in broad daylight. The Muridke Saddar police registered a murder case against the alleged killers on the complaint of brother of the deceased.

“No arrest has been made yet in this murder case. The police investigators are backing the accused nominated as killers in the FIR,” Muhammad Ishaq said. He said the killers included a police officer and his relatives.

An old woman was also among the protesters who identified herself as mother of the victim. She said that she and her two daughters would set themselves ablaze outside the chief minister’s house if the provincial police officers would not ensure justice in the murder case of her son.

The old woman was demanding immediate arrest of the killers stating that her son was murdered on the abetment of local DSP and SHO.

Later, heavy police contingents reached the spot and managed to disperse the protesters after holding a series of negotiations with them. A police officer assured the old woman that the killers of her son would be arrested very soon.

When contacted repeatedly the Sheikhupura district police officer was not available for his comments.

Cops paid Rs1.4m cash for work : Punjab Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera yesterday distributed hundreds of thousands of rupees among 36 policemen for showing good work.

The cash prizes and commendatory certificates were given to the policemen of seven districts during a ceremony held at the central police office yesterday. DIG Farooq Mazhar and SSP Abdul Rab were also present on this occasion.

A Punjab police spokeswoman said at least 13 policemen of Sahiwal region, 10 of Faisalabad, eight of Gujranwala, and five of Bahawalpur region were awarded cash prizes worth Rs14.80 million besides commendatory certificates.

The tradition of paying cash to the cops for their work is a common practice in the Punjab police department. For an instance, the police department allocated Rs118 million for cash reward in the budget 2015-16.

Police officials say the good cops are rewarded by the department for doing their job while the bad cops are taken to task. This “reward and punishment policy” is popular among police circles.

The police department did not mention the “work” of the policemen but sources revealed that the cops rewarded yesterday were given cash for killing crime and terror suspects in shootouts in 2015.

Last year, the provincial police killed more than 450 suspects in staged encounters across the Punjab province.