Salman Taseer’s son kidnapped from Lahore — Video
LAHORE: Shahbaz Taseer, the son of slain Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, was kidnapped by four unidentified people on Friday morning while on his way to his workplace in the Gulberg area of Lahore.
Shahbaz’s kidnapping is the second high-profile incident in the provincial capital after the abduction of American citizen Dr Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped on August 13, 2011 from the same police division.
The kidnappers bundled Shahbaz Taseer into their Prado jeep at gunpoint and fled the scene at around 10:19am. They abandoned Shahbaz Taseer’s Mercedes car at Dr Amiruddin Street, close to the office of the assistant commissioner (AC) Gulberg-III.
The Lahore police and other law-enforcement agencies came into action soon after the incident, but are still clueless about the kidnappers and the motive behind the abduction. Some police investigators claim that the incident could be the result of a business rivalry while others say the motive is ransom. A family dispute over property distribution could also be a motive behind the kidnapping, a senior police officer claimed.
Another police officer told The News that the victim left his house in Cavalry Ground in his grey-coloured two-seater Mercedes car (LZT-1) at around 10am without security cover. He was headed to his office, the head office of the First Capital Group at 103-C, Gulberg-III.
The officer said the victim used MM Alam Road to reach his office from the Firdous Market side. As he took a turn on Dr Amiruddin Road from the linking artery of MM Alam Road, four unidentified kidnappers, riding a black Prado jeep, intercepted his car at gunpoint and bundled him into the jeep. The kidnappers left the car of the victim, his two cell phones, and a laptop in the street close to House No 27-C-II, Gulberg-III. The incident occurred some 1,000 metres away from Shahbaz’s office.
A security guard at the AC Office, quoting an eyewitness, told The News that the eyewitness was going on a motorbike with a friend; as they took a turn towards Dr Amiruddin Road, armed persons pointed guns at them and asked them to leave the area. The eyewitness further said he got confused and fell from the bike and was injured.
In the meantime, the kidnappers took a person out of a Mercedes and bundled him into their jeep. The kidnappers fled towards Hussain Chowk from the same street, he added. As they reached close to the Firdous Market traffic signal, the kidnappers threw out a 222-rifle in front of Park Plaza Hotel and fled. A traffic warden later identified as Zeeshan, who was present at the traffic signal, noticed the gun and rashly driven jeep and aired a call on his walkie-talkie.
Meanwhile, a driver of the Taseer family, later identified as Fawad, noticed the abandoned car of his boss and informed police at Rescue 15 at around 10:35am. The police reached the crime scene after 15 minutes of the Rescue 15 call (around 30 minutes after the kidnapping).
Senior officers of the Lahore Police including SSP Operations and Investigation Model Town Division reached the spot and inspected the crime scene, which was cordoned off and where a heavy contingent of police were deployed. Forensic evidence was also collected from the abandoned car and two cell phones and a laptop were taken into custody.
A forensic expert told this correspondent that fingerprints were taken from the abandoned car but they were of multiple persons. Forensic experts have also taken into custody the deserted gun.
Soon after the incident, Lahore Police mounted pickets, especially at exit points of the city, and started checking suspected vehicles. Thorough sweeping of adjacent localities in Gulberg and Defence was also conducted to hunt the kidnappers.
SSP Operations Shaukat Abbas told the media at the crime scene that it was too early to ascertain the motive behind the kidnapping. He said a property dispute, a business rivalry or kidnapping for ransom would be the lead suspicions of investigators. He said two policemen of the Elite Force were given to the victim, but they were not with him at the time of the incident. He claimed that Shahbaz Taseer would travel alone from the same route when using his Mercedes car but take along the security guards while traveling in his Land Cruiser.
Another senior officer, quoting security guards Farhat Nazir and Liaqat told reporters that on Friday morning Shahbaz had refused to take them with him. However, investigators have taken both guards into custody and are grilling them.
PACE General Manager Colonel Hussain Jaffery, talking to reporters on the crime scene, said Shahbaz Taseer and his family had constantly received life threats after the assassination of Salman Taseer.
Capital City Police Officer held a meeting with senior officers of Lahore Police at the office of ASP Gulberg Fazal Hamid and discussed different aspects of the incident. The CCPO said they were investigating why security guards were not accompanying Shahbaz Taseer. He added that the cell phone data of Shahbaz and security guards was also being analysed to find some clues.
A case No 1036/11 has been registered under Section 365 PPC against unidentified kidnappers on the complaint of the victim’s aunt. The complainant told the media that the Lahore Police and Punjab government were in contact with them and they were cooperating. She added that no ransom call had been received so far.
Meanwhile, presiding over a meeting at the Lahore Airport on his return from Karachi on Friday, Shahbaz Sharif directed law-enforcing agencies not to spare any effort for the immediate recovery of Shahbaz Taseer, the son of former governor Punjab, Salman Taseer. He said the culprits involved in the incident must be arrested immediately.
Provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan, IGP, Punjab home secretary and senior officers were present on the occasion. The meeting considered all aspects of the Taseer case in detail.
Agencies add: Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the Punjab government had provided Shahbaz Taseer with a police escort after his father was killed “but he did not ask them to accompany him on Friday.”
“It was his routine. Sometimes he would go with guards, sometimes not,” Sana told Geo television. “The gunmen were young, wearing jeans; they came on a motorbike and in a vehicle. It is a sensitive issue and any statement at this stage would be premature. We will come to know when the investigations proceed,” he said.
Police officials said Taseer’s family had been repeatedly threatened to withdraw the murder case against the police bodyguard accused of his killing. Meanwhile, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government put security on high alert in the tribal region, in the wake of abduction of Shabaz Taseer, who could be taken to the tribal areas by the kidnappers.
APP adds: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday telephoned the widow of former governor Punjab Salman Taseer and told her that all efforts would be made to recover her abducted son. The president assured Aamna Taseer that law enforcement agencies had been directed to take all measures for the recovery of Shahbaz Taseer.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani telephoned Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and discussed the issue with him. The chief minister assured the prime minister of the early recovery of Shahbaz Taseer.
Earlier, the prime minister directed the inspector general police Punjab to take all measures to recover Shahbaz. He also telephoned the daughter of Salman Taseer, Sherbano and assured her that all efforts would be made to recover her brother.
Minister for Interior Rehman Malik also hoped that the Government of Punjab would leave no stone unturned in the safe recovery of Shahbaz Taseer. “The kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer, son of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, is a challenge for the provincial government, particularly for the Punjab police,” he said in a statement.
Rehman Malik said he has issued directions to all federal agencies to ensure cooperation and all out efforts for the safe release of Shahbaz Taseer. The minister said the National Crisis Management Cell had been asked to immediately coordinate with the Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata administrations while inspector general Motorway Police was directed to ensure constant monitoring on all the routes leading to KPK.
Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) would ensure technical support, he added. Meanwhile, the Pakistan People’s Party Punjab has condemned the abduction of Shahbaz Taseer. In a joint statement, PPP Punjab General Secretary Samiullah Khan, PPP Punjab Information Secretary Dr Fakhruddin and PPP Punjab Finance Secretary Aurang Zeb Barki alleged that the Punjab government had failed to provide security to citizens. They said the abduction of Shahbaz was proof that the law and order situation in Punjab was extremely poor. They also demanded the early recovery of the victim.