High-profile team investigating whether they were linked to terrorists groups like LeJ
ISLAMABAD: A Punjab police team investigating bogus police recruits is looking into possible infiltration into the force by terrorists and members of banned outfits, especially Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) which is blamed for most sectarian violence in the country.
The force has already sacked at least 136 officers who were recruited on the basis of fake appointment letters. They have been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
A high-powered team, comprising Multan Regional Police Officer (RPO) Tariq Masood Yasin and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Abdur Rab, is investigating which of these officers have ties to banned groups or terrorists.
“Yes, we are investigating whether any bogus police officers were members of terrorist organisations,” SSP Abdur Rab confirmed to The Express Tribune. He said the team was looking into the matter under directions of the Supreme Court.
According to SSP Abdur Rab, a ‘huge gang’ within the Punjab police was responsible for the recruitment of the 136 officers. The police have arrested seven members of this gang a couple of weeks ago, he added.
The gang, which was operating from the provincial police headquarters, recruited anyone into the police force, including criminals, terrorists and members of groups like LeJ, SSP Abdur Rab and other police officers said. In exchange for money, the gang would issue fake appointment orders with real signatures and official stamps along with a fake recruitment number.
Members of this gang – which was headed by an assistant director and comprised superintendents, assistants and clerks at the office of the inspector general of police (IGP) – were deputed at the establishment branch of the IGP office. As such, they had access to the entire the Punjab police records.
Once they completed the recruitment process at the police HQ, the fake officers were transferred to other districts. Most of them wound up in Multan, police officials said – some 106 of the 136 officers who were dismissed had been deputed in the district. Others were sent to remote districts of Punjab.
The gang responsible managed the bogus recruits at range level as well as through an officer who submitted transfer orders from the HQ and managed salary slips with the district accounts offices’ support.
Interestingly, the 136 bogus officers were appointed during Rana Sanaullah’s tenure as Punjab law minister between 2010 and 2013. RPO Tariq Masood, who is part of the team investigating these officers for terrorist and extremist links, was also serving as the DIG Establishment when the appointments were made.
The appointments scandal was unearthed last year when a chief drill inspector caught some of the bogus recruits at Police Lines. However, the gang behind the appointments was so influential that it managed to obtain a stay order from the Lahore High Court against the terminations of the fake recruits’ services.
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court vacated the LHC stay order and directed police officials to screen the bogus recruits for extremist or terrorist links. The top court will hear developments in this regard this week.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2015.