Rawalpindi - “He stepped out from a police mobile van and embarked on a black double cabin Toyota Vigo walking with pride and confidence while a policeman pointed his rifle to shoot him down but another police officer turned the barrel of his rifle to the sky with a jerk as if barring him from firing at the fleeing man.”

The men carrying weapons in their hands also followed the fleeing guy and then sped away towards Gulshanabad, Rawalpindi. This was stated by an eyewitness of Farrukh Khokhar’s fleeing ‘drama’ from police custody at Adyala Road while talking to The Nation here on Tuesday.

The fleeing accused along with his father Taji Khokhar, brother Omar Khokhar and two security guards Muhammad Ramzan and Hashim was arrested in connection with a murder and having illegal weapons. A case in this regard was registered with police station airport on August 17, 2012. The accused was being sent back to jail when this incident occurred.

A local trader running his business a few yards away from PSO Pump, where this incident happened, requesting anonymity told this scribe that he along with three of his friends were sitting outside his shop at around 1:30pm when he saw a police mobile van stopping there.

Three black double cabin Vigos arrived and surrounded the police mobile van. Suddenly, a group of armed people appeared from the vehicles and opened the door of one of Vigos. “A young man jumped out from police mobile van and sat in the Vigo. All this process took one minute. A police constable brandished his rifle towards the man who was sitting in Vigo but a two-star police officer who came out from the mobile van swiftly turned the barrel of cop’s riffle towards sky to stop him from firing at him,” the trader added.

Within no time, all black double cabins rushed towards Gulshanabad leaving dust in the air behind for the four police men standing near mobile van and the other eyewitnesses.

Later, a heavy contingent of police reached the spot and started questioning from people. “Then I came to know the young man who was shifted from police mobile van to Vigo was the son of Taji Khokhar,” the trader said.

The news of Taji’s Khokhar’s son spread like a jungle fire as City Police Officer (CPO) Umer Akhtar Lalayka, SSP (Operations) and all their subordinates visited crime scene and later joined their heads at Police Chowky Adyala adjacent to Adyala Jail, where they recorded the statements of four cops including a Sub Inspector (SI) Muhammad Akhter and three constables Sheeraz (driver), Asad and Shafqat Ali, in custody of whom the murder accused fled. The citizens were stunned seeing the movement of police vehicles buzzing sirens on Adyala Road.

The CPO, at incident site, told media on Monday that the escaped accused would be arrested soon. He said that no one was above the law. He said that stern action would be taken against the police officials if found involved in negligence during duty.

SSP (Operations) Mian Maqbool, while talking to The Nation, blamed the SHO PS Airport and the jail authorities for the mishap saying, “It was not necessary to produce the hardcore accused in such a miner case of having illegal weapons despite knowing that the concerned judge Qaiser Hussain Maral was on official visit to Adyala Jail”. He said that five accused were brought in court in Armed Personnel Carrier (APC) van but Farrukh was embarked in police mobile on return to jail.

He also termed Farrukh Khokhar’s escape from police custody as “manipulated”.

He said that SI Akhter stated before the inquiry team that 20 to 25 armed men obtained the release of the accused forcefully from police. He added that the criminals also snatched the official rifles from police and later threw on the road at some distance.

The SSP quoted the SI saying that police let Farrukh sit in open police mobile van after he requested that he was suffering from vomiting during the travel. All these words put the investigators in suspicion, Mian Maqbool added.

He said that the jail authorities and SHO PS Airport did not inform Security Branch prior about the court appearance of such dangerous criminals like Taji Khokhar and his men to hammer out a comprehensive security plan that included provision of Armed Personnel Carrier (APC) van, deputation of Elite Force and coordination of Control Room to avoid any untoward incident during the process of bringing the criminals to court and back them to jail. “The jail authorities informed PS Airport officials only about court presence of Farrukh Khokhar. When a police team, sent by SHO to transport the accused to court, learnt the accused are five not one. The team contacted SHO who sent an APC with one constable from Police Line again keeping Security Branch in darkness,” Mian Maqbool asserted.

Had SHO and jail authorities not broken the “prescribed security system” the mishap might have been averted, the SSP said, adding that inquiry was in process and strict action would be taken against the responsible. Teams were formed to arrest the fleeing accused, he said. Reportedly the name of accused was placed on exit control list (ECL) by interior ministry on the request of Rawalpindi police.