Lahore: 2 murder suspects killed in the dock
LAHORE: Simmering with revenge, a man shot dead two brothers when they appeared before an additional sessions judge to defend their interim bail in a murder case on Saturday.
While the panicked court staff, including the presiding officer, ducked down under their tables, the suspect fired 13 bullets single handedly on his targets and fled through the reserved door of judge’s retiring room only to be caught on a CCTV camera.
At the same time, the assassin exposed the security arrangements on the premises of the sessions court as he reportedly smuggled the weapon into the courtroom by concealing it in a large envelope lawyers/litigants usually carry to place their case brief. After the incident, all judges immediately abandoned their work and gathered at the office of district and sessions judge Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmad while lawyers announced observing a strike until Elite Force was deployed on the city court premises.
CCPO Malik Ahmad Raza Tahir, DIG Operation Rao Sardar and other police officers rushed to the scene and held a meeting with the sessions judge and lawyers. Court’s security in charge Malik Iqbal, an ASI, and naib court, Saleem, were immediately taken into custody after the incident.
Zeeshan Butt and Ali Imran Butt had allegedly killed Malik Nadeem on May 8, 2011, in Shadbagh and had come to defend their interim bail in the case lodged by the victim’s widow Rukhsana.
Their bail petition (No.418/2011) was fixed for hearing at serial number one in the daily cause list of additional sessions judge Haji Ahmad.
As the peon called the case, both the brothers entered the courtroom and stood in the dock. The moment judge opened the proceedings, the assailant clad in green shirt and black jeans positioned himself in front of his targets, pulled out his pistol and shot at Zeeshan and Imran, a court staffer told Dawn.
The assailant first fired one bullet each on both the siblings and later started indiscriminate firing on them, a Lahore Bar Association (LBA) official, who watched the footage of CCTV camera installed inside the courtroom, told Dawn.
One of the siblings received a bullet in his head and died on the spot while the second one received first bullet in his leg and tried to run away but the assailant emptied his pistol’s magazine on his moving target’s back.
The lawyer said the judge also ducked under his table to save his life and so did the reader and other staffers. The suspect dropped his pistol on the judge’s table before fleeing the courtroom.
The suspect first rushed towards the stenographer’s room but finding no way, he then entered the judge’s retiring room and fled without any hassle through the door meant for the presiding officer.
“Both the brothers were lying in a pool of blood when I entered the courtroom,” said a court employee who had taken refuge in an adjacent room after hearing gunshots.
He said friends of both the brothers removed their bodies from the courtroom as no police personnel could reach the spot immediately. At a belated stage, the police closed the courtroom and started investigation.
Talking to Dawn, city operations SP Dr Shahzad Asif said that Islampura police had registered an FIR against nine people of the prosecuting side, including Nadeem’s two widows, without any arrest so far. He said that the assailant had brought the pistol by concealing it in a khaki envelope used by lawyers/litigants to carry case brief.
The complainant and paternal aunt of the Butt brothers also implicated their counsel Amir Nadeem Butt, alleging that he had helped the suspect in executing the murder plan. Asif Gujjar, Atif and his father Bhola Zikraya, Khalid Gujjar are the other suspects named in the Saturday’s FIR.
City investigations SP Ahmad Nawaz Cheema said both the parties had an old enmity. The Butt brothers allegedly belonged to the gang once headed by Mobeen Butt, who was also murdered some time ago.
The police high-ups held a marathon meeting with district and sessions judge Mujahid Mustqeem and bar leaders, including SCBA president Asma Jahangir. Additional sessions judge Haji Ahmad also shared the incident’s details with the investigators. LBA president Shahzad Hassan Sheikh said the bar had demanded of the police high-ups to deploy Elite Force personnel to man all courts of the city. He said the police bosses were asked to order establishment of a permanent kiosk on sessions and civil courts premises and also deploy the civvies to monitor security situation.
He said the bar would observe complete strike until its demands were fulfilled by the police authorities. The CCPO assured lawyers that a foolproof security plan for courts would be chalked out to avoid such incidents in future.
Meeting a lawyers’ delegation consisting of SCBA president Asma Jahangir and other representatives who called on him at his office later in the evening, the CCPO said that a special team headed by an SP had been formed to investigate the incident. On May 26, 2010, a man identified as Dr Hanif Kamran had killed an advocate, Mehboob Ali, and injured three others on the sessions court premises. The doctor who also lost his life in the incident had used hand grenade and pistol to kill the lawyer. After that incident, the Lahore High Court chief justice had ordered the city police to beef up security arrangements on court premises.
Also on May 26, 2003, five associates of Tipu Truckanwala were killed when two affiliates of the Gogi gang allegedly attacked Tipu Truckanwala near ETPB Building, next to Aiwan-i-Adl, after a court hearing.