In a significant development in the ongoing investigation of the May 9 Lahore Jinnah House inferno, two senior police officers have surfaced as suspects.
The list of suspects, handed over to SP Investigations Model Town, includes Inspector Asim Rafi, currently serving as the Personal Staff Officer (PSO) of Lahore DIG Operations, and Sub-Inspector Asif Zulfiqar, who is serving as SHO Mustafabad.
The list, which consists of over 100 individuals, marks another step in the high-level investigations initiated following the violent incidents that rocked Lahore earlier this year, particularly at military installations.
Throughout the investigation, concerns about the alleged abuse of police authority in dealing with the case have been raised.
The investigative process began with an extensive review of evidence, including CCTV footage, mobile video recordings, geo-fencing data, and mobile phone conversations that indicated the presence of these suspects at the scene.
Moreover, the list of suspects also includes numerous individuals who were present at the location due to their professional responsibilities, including journalists, ambulance drivers, and emergency service officials.
‘Innocents’ bearing the brunt
However, the inclusion of innocent individuals in the suspect list has caused considerable hardship for those who had no hand in the incidents.
An Edhi ambulance driver found himself in police custody for over two weeks while he struggled to clear his name. Similarly, Sarfaraz Khan, a crime reporter in Lahore with over a decade of experience, had his house raided multiple times despite being a familiar figure to district police officers.
In the latest phase of investigations, the list of suspects has expanded to encompass individuals who were observed in the vicinity through geo-fencing data.
The Express Tribune came to know that among those added to the list, apart from the inspector and sub-inspector, is a driver from an online taxi service, who found himself in police custody for questioning this week.
The individual in question, identified as Zahid, had visited a shopping centre for a ride and was also seen routinely moving about the area.
Upon presenting records of his travels and activities on the day of the incident to the investigating officers, including a DSP, Zahid has been cleared yet awaited freedom for clearance from higher-ranking officers.
Senior police officials explain that this is just an initial list, and after a thorough inquiry, innocent individuals will be absolved of any suspicion.
Elahi’s residence raided
In another shocking turn of events, the residence of the former chief minister of Punjab, Pervaiz Elahi, also became the target of a police raid.
CCTV footage capturing police officers entering Elahi’s residence during the night has surfaced, raising allegations of harassment and damage to valuable items during the operation.
Meanwhile, in another incident, a PTI leader has been booked for allegedly assaulting a police party in Kahna. The PTI leader had organised a political gathering after obtaining due approval from the district administration, following an extensive process on October 22.
The incident occurred a day after PML-N organised its rally at Minar-e-Pakistan to welcome its leader Nawaz Sharif. Despite the prior approval, a heavy contingent of police officers conducted raids at the political gathering, resulting in the arrest of numerous party workers.
Several days after the incident, a case has been registered against the PTI leader for alleged assault on the police during the gathering.
Sources revealed that the police have compiled a fresh list, which now comprises a total of 850 individuals linked to the May 9 incidents.
Overnight, a series of crackdowns resulted in the arrest of 54 wanted individuals from this list. Among those apprehended, the key suspect responsible for igniting the Jinnah House fire has been successfully captured, according to law enforcement authorities.
Of the detained individuals, 29 have been remanded to judicial custody, while the police continue their thorough investigation into the remaining persons of interest.
The latest list was assembled, relying heavily on geofencing data and the identification of wanted individuals from various surveillance footage.
Diverse teams have been formed to track down and detain the remaining individuals, and raids are being actively conducted as part of this effort, as confirmed by police officials.PTI central leaders nominated
In a related development, significant progress has also been achieved in the case related to the attack outside the ISI Faisalabad office on May 9.
The Anti-Terrorism Court has taken the significant step of nominating key figures from the central leadership in connection with the incident.
The court’s summons to the central leadership comes in the wake of their formal inclusion in the case.
A total of 126 accused individuals have been summoned to appear before the court, which includes prominent figures such as Asad Umar, Farrukh Habib, Hamad Azhar, Omar Ayub, Shahbaz Gill, Zartaj Gul, Fawad Chaudhry, Jamshed Cheema, Ali Amin Gandapur, Yasmin Rashid, Murad Saeed, Shibli Faraz, and Azam Swati.