Rawalpindi: ‘Encounter’ kills ASI, 4 criminals
RAWALPINDI: Four proclaimed offenders on the ‘most wanted’ police list and an assistant sub–inspector (ASI) were gunned down during a six-hour-long ‘encounter’ in the Chontra area early Sunday, police said. More than seven other criminals managed to escape despite the fact that the police had cordoned off the area and lobbed massive tear gas shells into the hideout. Another policeman was also injured. A reward of Rs200,000 had been announced by the police for information leading to the arrest of Irfan, one of the criminals who escaped.
However, the police claimed to have captured two of the wanted criminals – Ameer alias Baggu and Zubair – and also recovered a semi–machinegun usually used by the police.
Police continued combing the area in search of the criminals who escaped during the shootout, which left ASI Ghulam Akbar dead and constable Hasnain Shahzad injured.
The injured was shifted to the District Headquarters Hospital where he was stated to be out of danger.
Talking to Dawn from the hospital bed, Mr Shahzad said when they reached the hideout of the criminals in Meyal locality of Chontra at about 4:45am and asked the inmates to surrender, the gang opened fire on the police from the rooftop of the building situated on a hillock.
When contacted, superintendent of police, Saddar circle, Waheedur Rehman Khattak said following intelligence that some proclaimed offenders/criminals belonging to Parveza and Ameer alias Baggu groups would reach the hideout some time on Saturday, three raiding parties – one comprising four sections of the Elite Force commandoes and the others separately headed by DSP Saddar, SHO Chontra and SHO Rawat – were constituted to conduct the raid.
“As the police asked the criminals to surrender, they opened fire from the rooftop of their house killing ASI Ghulam Akbar and injuring constable Hasnain Shahzad,” the SP said and added: “The criminals were 12 to 15 in number who escaped from the scene.”
He said after the criminals fled, the police started hunting them and later killed four of them during a shootout while two of their accomplices were also captured alive.
When the SP was asked whether any of the most wanted criminals was involved in any terrorist activity and his name included in the ‘Red Book’; he said: “No, none of the criminals was wanted in connection with any terrorist activity or sectarian terrorism. All of them were murderers and involved in other crimes.”
The shootout between the police and the gang of criminals continued for about six hours and ended at 11am.
The bodies of the four alleged criminals killed in the shootout were shifted to the DHQ hospital for postmortem. A few women relatives of the deceased were present outside the hospital mortuary to receive their bodies.
According to a local resident Muneer Hussain, the encounter started when the police carried out a surprise raid in the village to capture some proclaimed offenders.
He said: “Usually, the villagers keep themselves away during such encounters which often take place in the area. Hardly a day passes when a quarrel or a murder does not take place over land or other issues.”
The residents said police set on fire sheaves of wheat lying in the fields suspecting that the criminals might be hiding their besides torching the house from where the criminals had targeted the police.
Malik Fazal, a local resident, told Dawn that shortly after the policeman was killed by the proclaimed offenders/criminals, the police launched a manhunt for the fleeing persons. He said one of the criminals was killed in the hideout during shootout.
The residents also claimed that the police had set on fire the house of the most wanted criminal Pervez, though nobody was inside at that time. However, the police denied that they had burnt the house.
When City Police Officer Azhar Hameed Khokhar was contacted, he said the 12 proclaimed offenders/criminals were already on the most wanted list of the police under Anti–Terrorism Act and murder charges.
The CPO said as many as eight of the criminals escaped during the encounter.
But it remains a mystery how the criminals managed to flee when the police were assisted by the Elite Force commandoes and regular police force.
Regional Police Officer Mohammad Zubair announced one-day salary of the RPO office staff and Rawalpindi district police for the family of the deceased ASI, who was a resident of Mianwali.
Funeral of the ASI was held at the Police Lines and attended by the regional police officer, city police officer and others.