Model Town Massacre - 17 June 2014
It was around 1:30 p.m. on Monday night on June 16, 2014 when the hundreds of police officials laid a siege to central secretariat of MQI and the residence of PAT chief Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. The police launched this operation suddenly without any prior notice presumably in the name of removing security barriers. They had heavy machinery at their disposal. Only security officials were deployed at the central secretariat and residence of the PAT leader at that time for the purpose of security. The Police officers commanding the operation were shown the circular issued by the Model Town Police in which MQI administration had manifestly been asked to make security arrangements in line with the court’s orders in view of possibility of terrorist attack. They were further told that these security barriers were erected under the supervision of police officers of Model Town Police Station but they refused to accept the circular. The discussion about the issue was also held between central leaders and police officers but the police did not seem to be relenting. Rather, they became more aggressive as time went on and ordered baton-charging of the staff members living in the central secretariat and students of the Minhaj University. These unarmed people braved the police action throughout the night.
With the rising of the Sun of June 17, the news of state terrorism on the central secretariat of MQI spread like wild fire in every nook and corner of the country. Hearing this, the workers, members of civil society and the people at large started reaching the central secretariat. The police deployment was also increasing with the passage of time as reinforcements came from across the city of Lahore. Defending themselves against the brutal police action, the workers warded off the police officials from removing security barriers for many hours and they suffered severe baton-charging and pelting of stones by the police in the process. At last, the police resorted to shelling of teargas, aerial firing and even started live firing at the protesters. People started to die. The bullet-riddled bodies could be seen lying on the roads. The people started shifting the injured people to the hospitals on their own. It was after 15 hours of continuous action that the police took control of MQI Secretariat.
After occupying the central secretariat, the police moved forward to the residence of PAT chief. They fired live bullets at whosoever came their way and removed the security barriers placed in front of Dr Qadri’s house. People started dying there as well. Police also made an attempt to gatecrash into residence of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri. The lady workers present there became shield before the police. Paying little heed to presence of women and showing little regard for them, the Police opened fire at them. Two lady workers were killed on the spot while many others were injured. As a result of this Police attack and state terrorism, seven people including two women died on the spot where as 7 more succumbed to their injuries later on in hospitals. More than 90 people sustained serious injuries. The hundreds of workers were arrested, thrown into jails and shifted to undisclosed locations.
The purpose of this operation, which was undertaken in the name of removing security barriers, was in fact to intimidate and harass PAT workers and people at large before the arrival of Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri so that they could not come out of their homes to receive their leader. The idea, on the other hand, was to kill both sons of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri namely Dr Hassan Mohi-ud-Din Qadri and Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri during the attack so that the movement for revolution could be damaged beyond repair. It was for this reason that snipers and sharp shooters particularly targeted his residence. The doors, windows and rooms were hit with hundreds of bullets. This brutal attack on the residence reflected the real intent behind the attack, for if the purpose was merely removal of the barriers, they were installed outside the residence and moreover they had already removed them. There was no justification to fire inside the residence and MQI Secretariat. The personnel of elite force and snipers had taken positions around residence of the PAT leader and MQI secretariat under the supervision of police officers in such a manner as if it were war between India and Pakistan or they were in a battle with terrorists. Acting DIG Rana Abdul Jabbar, SP Model Town Tariq Aziz, SP Iqbal Town Furrukh Raza, SP Saddar Owais, SP Ma’aroof Safdar Wahla, DSPs of all divisions and heavy contingents of police took part in the operation. Other wings of Police such as investigation wing, operation wing, quick response force and elite force also participated in the operation.
The Police officials attacked the ambulances that came to pick up the injured PAT workers during the operation and the drivers of the ambulances were ordered to stay away from the scene of action. The cars standing in the parking area of central secretariat were attacked and damaged. The Police continued the operation fearlessly despite presence of media and live broadcast of the whole incident. They retained control of central secretariat for many hours. The shells of teargas and bullets even hit the interior of the central secretariat. The way police maltreated the elderly, women and children in an utter disregard for law and Constitution marks a slap on the face of this so-called democratic system. The Police officials could be seen dragging the women, beating the bearded elderly with mercilessly and shoving the children into police vans. The electronic media broadcast these heart-rending incidents to the whole world.
As soon as the workers and the members of the civil society came to know of this oppression and brutality, they held peaceful demonstrations to protest state terrorism in their cities. It is pertinent to mention here that security barriers around secretariat of MQI had been placed four years ago on the orders of the Lahore High Court and in the presence of Model Town Police. The Taliban had given a threat to target MQI buildings at that time. The removal of barriers meant that the government had given an opportunity to terrorists to attack MQI secretariat. The attack proved Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri right when he had declared on media that in case of an attack, he would nominate key government figures in FIR. The brutal action undertaken by the government would spawn terrorism in the country. The nervous people like Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Saad Rafique wanted to destroy peace and tranquility of this country. Such brutal police action in the darkness of night cannot stop the way of revolution. We are peaceful people and want to stay peaceful but the rulers are using devious tactics out of nervousness.
Electronic media broadcast this horrible incident live across the country and entire world. Thus they exposed before the nation the evil faces of the rulers who wore the masks of democracy. The brutality, oppression, and barbarism displayed by the rulers while carrying out this incident can be gauged from the fact that the whole national political and religious leadership got together to condemn the massacre of innocent people in broad day-light and held the rulers responsible for the killings. The Punjab Chief Minister tried to shift the blame innocently that he did not know about this operation nor were bullets fired on his orders. How is it possible that an incident remained on the media spotlight for 15 hours on end and the rulers did not get even a hint of it? They have no reason to hold their offices in this situation.
Later on, having said that ‘firing on innocent and unarmed citizens is not acceptable’, the Chief Minister sought resignation from Law Minister Rana Sanaullah. This statement of the Chief Minister proves our contention that we were unarmed, innocent and peaceful and it is Police which has perpetrated terrorism. They accused us of being terrorists but accepted our point of view by declaring us as innocent.
The question arises that at a time when the Pakistan military had launched an operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan and Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri declared this operation as Jihad, who ordered the police action in Model Town to sabotage the military action? Instead of strengthening security of Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri and his institutions due to his clear position against terrorism particularly in view of his world-renowned Fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombing, who ordered police to remove the security barriers placed around MQI Secretariat and his residence?
There is no denying the fact that the action of such scale cannot be undertaken without the orders, approval and clearance of the rulers. It was they who planned the attack by thinking through minutest details and got it executed by Police. Did Police, which was equipped with the state of the art weapons come to remove barriers only? Actually, there were ulterior motives behind the whole operation. The idea was to carry out merciless operation by targeting PAT workers including women and children, shed their blood and term it as a routine operation against encroachment. This worst ever incident in the country’s history happened due to police officers who get postings on the recommendations of their political masters and then leave no stone unturned to obey their illegal orders both ‘in letter and spirit’.
In addition to the SPs of six Divisions of Lahore Police, SP CIA, SP Headquarters, dozens of DSPs ASPs, inspectors and heavy contingents of police took part in the police action. It is equally surprising that quick response force, elite force, snipers and elite commandos who are trained to fight terrorism bloodied their hands by killing innocent people. Police officers kept on feeding false news of deaths of police officials to media during the operation. The fact of the matter is that not even a single police official died and these were common, innocent people who lost their lives. This horrible incident is nothing but a glaring instance of political vendetta. The people of Pakistan have also been conveyed a message crystal-clearly that the rulers would not hesitate to muzzle every single voice against them in total disregard of law, Constitution and morality and that they were free to act the way they liked. The incident represents a practical manifestation of this mindset and the statements given by the representatives of the government have further put a seal of approval on this mindset. The federal and provincial ministers are not ready even to express remorse on tragedy of such a level. They have unabashedly been defending the government on TV going to the extent of cooking up lies to justify themselves.
Announcing to get FIR of this heart-rending incident registered against the Sharif brothers and key members of their cabinet, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said:
“We do not accept any investigation committee or FIR lodged by police. The government is set to go in return for martyrdoms of the workers. The current rulers are against Pakistan army since 1990s and are now spreading chaos and rift in the country to thwart Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan. Shahbaz Sharif is staging a façade by saying that he did not know anything about the police action. The Police did this on his will. Why did police fire at gates, windows and doors of my house whereas the barriers were place outside the house? The rulers cannot stop the march of revolution. Our guards also had licensed weapons. Had they wanted, they would have hit police but we showed patience and restraint. We have supported Pakistan army for noble cause for which we are being punished.
“The way police perpetrated repression and state terrorism on innocent and unarmed workers, such parallel cannot be found in 67 year old history of the country. There have been governments in the past but none of them perpetrated terrorism of this scale and magnitude. As far as the matter of placement of barriers is concerned, they were erected on the orders of honorable Lahore High Court and concerned police officers were present at the time of their placement. If these barriers were illegal, why were they not noticed by the rulers of Punjab for four years? The problem does not relate to barrier but to the revolution, which is on its way. The rulers attacked MQI secretariat out of nervousness. We will get the FIR of workers’ martyrdom registered against Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif, Chaudhry Nisar, Khawaja Asif, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Pervez Rashid, Abid Sher Ali, Rana Sanaullah, IG, DIG, CCPO, SPs, DSPs and concerned SHOs. We reject the constitution of judicial commission. The rulers had four objectives:
- They wanted to create disarray and chaos in the country though this action.
- They wanted to sabotage the military operation in North Waziristan.
- They wanted to stop people from gathering and receiving me on my arrival in Pakistan.
- They wanted to bring physical harm to my family so that my workers do not come out of their homes to receive me and are terrified into silence.
“My workers became a hurdle in the way of their heinous plan. The ruthless police personnel even fired at the women present there. The Chief Minister’s reprimand of police high-ups, resignation from the Law Minister and orders for constitution of investigation committees are merely eyewash meant to hoodwink the nation. He is a killer himself and the whole tragedy was enacted on his direct orders. Therefore, the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister and all those ministers whom I have already nominated in advance FIR should resign from their offices. This brutal action of the rulers has further brought us closer to the destination of revolution. There is no expectation that justice will be delivered in the presence of current rulers. We would take Qisas in the form of end of this government and revolution.”
It is pertinent to mention here that whenever any anti-encroachment operation takes place, the District Coordination Officer seeks police’s help by writing a letter to police high-ups. The orders are issued to relevant police authorities in the light of the letter to help city district government team in carrying out anti-encroachment drive and taking action against those who hamper this activity. The team is constituted under the leadership of concerned Tehsil Municipal Officer under the supervision of DCO. They are sent to relevant police station where the officer on duty registers their arrival along with request for police help. Police comes into action when government officials are either tortured or their action is resisted. What happened at Model Town is totally reverse of Standard Operating Procedures that are followed during anti-encroachment drives. The Police reached the central secretariat at 1:30 a.m. and resorted to baton-charging of the innocent people despite being shown court orders. The old citizens, women and children were tortured in the presence of DIG Operations and he did not take any action. Instead of ordering the police party to stand down, he enjoyed cold drinks offered by the Gullu Butts of PML-N. The whole nation saw many Gullu Butts in action on that fateful day who were not only smashing cars, destroying public property but also firing at protesters with weapons.
Documentary of Model Town Incident - June 17, 2014