LHC gives police ‘last chance’ to recover Sheikh Rashid

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RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the detention of former interior minister Sheikh Rashid and gave authorities a “last chance” to recover the PTI ally by October 2. 

“In failing to do so, strict action will be taken against the force.”

Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, from the Rawalpindi bench of LHC, heard the case of the Awami Muslim League (AML) chief and reprimanded Regional Police Officer (RPO) Syed Khurram Ali for failing to recover the veteran politician. The judge also inquired about the progress made in the case.

Rashid was at his home in a private housing society on the outskirts of Islamabad on Sept 17 when purported Rawalpindi Police personnel and some officials in plain clothes, raided the residence and detained him and three others. However, in a statement issued later that night, a spokesperson of the Rawalpindi Police denied the arrest and claimed Rashid was not in their custody. He has been missing since.

Rashid’s counsel, during the hearing, told the court that Rawalpindi police had been contacting them to issue a statement on Rashid’s behalf, claiming that he went away on his own and was not arrested by the authorities. “They say that Sheikh Rashid will be released after the statement,” he said.

The lawyer further prayed that the police raided Rashid’s house and arrested him under the supervision of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operation Faisal Suleman. There is CCTV footage to support the claim. All the security guards who live near the area are also witnesses of the arrest, he added.

Upon this, the court directed the RPO to give an affidavit that they (the three people detained in the CCTV including Sheikh Rashid) are not under police custody. If the three are recovered from Rawalpindi, then legal action will be taken against the force, the judge remarked.

The former minister’s counsel also prayed to the court that his client’s nephew, Sheikh Shakir, and employee Imran have nothing to do with politics and hence, should not become ‘targets’.

After hearing both sides, Justice Sadaqat gave authorities a last chance to recover Rashid, and others by October 2. “After that, there will be no calls. Strict action will be taken and notice will be issued to the RPO.”

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