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Police cover up escape of militants, criminals from Mardan Police Lines

Bureau Report 2016-06-24
PESHAWAR: In a big cover-up, the police hid not only dramatic escape of 11 militants and criminals from inside the Police Lines, Mardan but also blamed the death of a constable on an attack from outside last May, it has been revealed.

In his First Information Report of May 2, 2016, constable Mohammad Jan, said that at around 2:30am, he was guarding the upper post toward the railway track at Police Lines, when, suddenly, he overheard gunshots and when he looked down, he saw two armed men below.

He said he fired back and the assailants fled taking advantage of the dark and the populated area.

In the report, he said, that he called out constable Sher Mohammad, who was guarding the lower post but did found no response.

In the meantime, Sub-Inspector in charge of security Irshad Khan and others reached the spot and when they went to check Sher Mohammad, he was found dead with a bullet in head.

The police, in a request under the Right to Information Act, sent through the inspector general of police on June 1, 2016, to seekdetails of the incident, the circumstances of the death of the constable, the names and identifies of the militants and criminals who escaped and whether any inquiry was ordered following it, narrated the same story.

The reply, sent along with a signed cover letter of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mardan Range-1, said on May 2, at around 2:30am, some unknown personnel opened fire on police constable Sher Mohammad performing duty in a post besides the Police Lines.

On hearing the gunshot, the reply said, another constable performing duty on the boundary wall picket fired in the direction but the unknown persons fled in the darkness.

`The in charge security along with other troops rushed to the spot and found the constable martyred, it said.

The reply then went on to say that the KP police, particularly the Mardan police, had borne the brunt of terrorist attacks in recent months with courage, intrepidity, determination and perseverance and cited the example of a suicide bomber shot and killed shortly before he was to detonate his explosives vest near Police Station, Mardan City on May 30, 2016.

The police in its reply, however, neither contradicted the escape of the eleven militants and criminals from Mardan police, nor mentioned or referred to the incident.

The police might have gotten away with the cover up, had it notbeen for one of its own organization, the Special Branch, which issued a threat alert on May 16, 2016 14 days after the incident warning that the group which had escaped from the Police Lines could be contemplating attacks.

Based on the Special Branch report, the Strategic Analysis Wing of the home and tribal affairs department issued a threat alert.

The alert said: `Sequel to the escape of 11 suspects including three High Value Targets (Ex TTG (Tariq Geeder Group) and MQZ (Majmoa-i-Qari Zafar) and eight criminals, who escaped on 01 May, 2016 at 0230 hours from Regional Interrogation Unit (Established by Mardan Police in 2013/14 within Police Lines Mardan), the reaction of these against their captors/intelligence operatives contemplated.

`The miscreants are probably located in Sawal Dher mountains/ tunnel and are familiar with identities and locations of sources of intelligence agencies/ LEAs and they/ their outfits may attempt targeting individuals involved in their arrest,` the report said.

`The same was vindicated when on 15 May, 2016, at about 1920 hours, miscreants of ex-TTG killed Mr. X (name being withheld) (brother of a source) at Mardan. All preventive and precautionary measures shall be adopted to avoid any untoward incident,` the threat alert advised.

While the police denied the existence of a regional interrogation center, they did cover up the escapeand the circumstances leading to the incident, security officials Dawn spoke to confirmed it.

`It was a big screw up,` a senior security official said.

`The whole story of firing from outside was cooked up,` he said.

`Our own analysis of the incident was that the firing took place inside and not outside.

No one in close proximity of the post near the railway track, Dawn spoke to, remember overhearing exchange of Hre taking place on that night.

Security officials believe that it appeared the militants and criminals overpowered the constable guarding the lock-up, snatched his gun, shot him and dead, made the others freeze in their position before making their escape good.

`There was no evidence of firing from outside,` the official said.

`This was hugely embarrassing, anotherseniorsecurityofhcialsaid.

`But what happened afterwards was more serious,` the official maintained.

`Since the whole effort was made to cover up what was an embarrassing incident, no effort was made to inform the checl< posts and the many pickets on the way from the Police Lines. They could have been intercepted. They just let them flee.

The police in a reply to Dawn said the IG had ordered inquiry into the incident through the regional police officer, Mardan, and that its findings would determine the subsequent course of action.