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Bahria Town drag car race

SC for action against sponsors; culprits still at large

* Court rejects settlement between families of organisers and victims

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Monday directed Punjab police and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to take action against the sponsors of illegal drag race and observed that police officers were trying to save skins of influential persons by making the weak scapegoats.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani was hearing the suo moto case against the holding of illegal car race that held at Bahria Town, Rawalpindi claimed lives of five persons on December 5, 2010.

The court directed the FIA to arrest and bring back Atif Sheikh, the main organiser of the drag race and an absconding accused, through Interpol. The court rejected a patch up between the victims’ families and the accused, terming it dissatisfactory. “If any such compromise has been undertaken, it should be in clear terms and under the ambit of law,” the court noted.

The court directed Hamid Khan, counsel for Ali Riaz, son of Bahria Town’s chief executive Malik Riaz Hussain, to produce a clear agreement of compromise. Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Haris told the court that Sheikh had presented a fake medical certificate for getting bail and left to Abu Dhabi from Peshawar. He said an application had been moved for cancellation of his passport and efforts were on to trace and bring him back to the country.

To a court query, Haris informed that there were 30 sponsors of the drag race. To another query of court that why action had not been taken against the sponsors and whether there were some hurdles in the way of action due to involvement of influential people in the case, the police investigation officer Rana Mubashir said there was no such hurdle and action was being taken. The chief justice (CJ) however, observed that it seemed as if police officers were trying to save the skins of influential persons by making the weak scapegoats. During hearing, the CJ said the court was continuously being misled. Reprimanding Hamid Khan, the CJ said, “Don’t involve us in this sin”. He said even the draft of the compromise was wrong. Later, the court adjourned hearing for three weeks.

On last hearing, counsels for the accused Naveed Anjam and Syed Zulfiqar Hussain Naqvi, had told the court that a compromise had been reached between the victims’ and the accused parties, adding that victims’ families had forgiven them in the name of Allah. The court had observed that when about 10,000 spectators were there and the advertisements were given in press then how could the owner of Bahria Town remain in dark about the mega event. The chief justice had said that he would not leave the apex court with a guilty mind that influential people were not brought to book. He had noted that prima facie, all these sponsors were also equally responsible for the incident.

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