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Was Jamia Hafsa razed to suppress evidence?: DC will be jailed if charge proved: CJP

ISLAMABAD, Aug 18: The Supreme Court on Friday directed Federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah to handle the Lal Masjid case exclusively, and observed that the administration had desecrated the Quran and destroyed all evidence by demolishing Jamia Hafsa.

A four-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar and Justice M Javed Buttar was hearing the suo motu case regarding extra- judicial killings during the Lal Masjid operation.

The bench took notice of the delay in disposal of cases against the students arrested from Jamia Hafsa. Taufeeq Asif, a legal aid committee member, told the bench that Anti Terrorist Court Judge Sakhi Muhammad Kahut, who was to hear students' cases, was on summer vacation till August 26 and therefore the cases had been adjourned until September. The bench then directed the government to appoint a special ATC judge for hearing the cases on a day-to-day basis.

The bench was told that 61 students were presently in the custody. Thirty nine of them are involved in bailable offences and the joint investigation team has recommended the release of 22 of them, the SC was told. The CJP ordered immediate release of the 22 students.

National Crisis Management Cell Director General Brig (r) Javed Iqbal Cheema said that 28 DNA tests of the bodies had so far not matched with their claimants. The CJP contradicted Cheema's claim, saying that 30 bodies remained unidentified according to the Islamabad deputy commission.

The CJP issued a directive that the federal interior secretary would appear in person in court from the next hearing i.e. on August 28.

The CJP asked Islamabad DC Muhammad Ali to explain why the building of Jamia Hafsa was demolished. "If it is proved that the building had been demolished to remove the evidence, then you will be prosecuted and put behind bars," the CJP told the DC.

When Justice Chaudhry asked the DC if the Jamia Hafsa building was screened before being demolished, his replied was in negative.

A legal aid committee member called for a judicial inquiry into the case, but the CJP said findings of these inquiries were always held in abeyance.

Justice Chaudhry said 90 percent of the arrested students fell in grey category with regard to their offence. The DC said he wanted to produce some record before the court at an in-camera hearing, but the bench denied this.

The court directed the SSP to recover within a week a man named Iftikhar, who reportedly went missing while searching for his son Nadeem Iftikhar near Lal Masjid when the clash between security forces and the mosque clerics was at an earlier stage.

Akthar Azim said his two daughters Nargis Zohra and Sidratul Muntaha had surrendered to the security forces, but gone missing since then. The DC told the court that the two girls did not want to live with their father. The court directed the DC to produce the sisters before a sessions judge to record their statements.

Ghulam Muhammad produced a picture of his son surrendering to the authorities. He said the authorities concerned were now giving him an unidentified body. He questioned how his son could be killed when he had surrendered to the forces. The court directed Deputy Attorney General Raja Muhammad Irshad to look into this matter and adjourned the hearing for August 28. Daily times
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