Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, a key respondent in the Supreme Court's (SC) suo motu case pertaining to the transfer of former Pakpattan district police officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal, on Saturday objected to a report compiled by the chief of the National Counter-terrorism Authority (Nacta) on the incident, saying in a formal statement that it "lacked lucidity" regarding his (Gujjar's) conduct in the matter.
Nacta Chief Maher Khaliq Dad Lak had been ordered by the chief justice to conduct an inquiry to determine the "complete truth" about who was responsible for Gondal's sudden transfer.
Among other findings, Lak's report mentioned that Gujjar, in a meeting with the DPO and other police officers at the Punjab chief minister's office, had said "All will suffer" if such an incident occurred again.
Lak concluded that while the words were "certainly derogatory, insulting and constitute misconduct", but stopped short of deeming them an attempt at coercion, saying that "whether they constitute criminal intimidation is purely a legal debate".
Gujjar, in his response submitted to the SC today, declared that the report was "vague" and contrary to facts.
He described himself as an ordinary citizen who did not hold any government or public office who "thus, is not likely to cause any state of susceptibility or intimidation on part of the state functionaries, who even otherwise are not so gullible in terms of their official/administrative functions".
The statement seemed to be a response to a Supreme Court warning that Gujjar may be tried for thwarting the functioning of the state.
"At best, the respondent may only be seen to have acted in a state of anxiety in a naive manner [...] for which he had already expressed his remorse and repentance," the reply said.
Gujjar had previously offered an unconditional apology to the SC for his "unwarranted participation" in official matters.
The court had repeatedly grilled Gujjar in the past as to what capacity he attempted to mediate a dispute between state functionaries and a private citizen, noting that he could not plausibly present himself as a 'guardian' of the Maneka children as he did not have any legal claim to do so.
The Pakpattan incident
In August, Khawar Maneka was flagged to stop at a security picket in Pakpattan by police, but he allegedly refused and raced ahead. The police had subsequently chased him down and forced him to stop, after which harsh words were exchanged between the two parties.
When Gondal's transfer orders started making rounds a few days later, it was widely speculated in news and social media that that the police officer was transferred because of the incident.
It was believed that the officer was transferred for refusing to apologise in person to Khawar Maneka over the altercation between him and the police.
However, it later transpired that there had been two incidents involving a run-in between the Maneka family and local and highway police, which had led to acrimony between Khawar Maneka and Pakpattan police.
That acrimony finally came to a head when the Punjab police chief, the chief minister and the Maneka family got pulled into a messy dispute over how the matter should have been resolved, which ended with the abrupt transfer of Gondal from his police duties.
During a meeting at the Punjab CM's office, in which the former Pakpattan DPO and the Sahiwal RPO were also present, Gujjar had complained about the two incidents and the refusal of the police to address the "mistreatment" meted out to the Maneka family.
Gujjar had expressed suspicions that Maneka's brothers — who the family believed to be associated with a rival political party and were not on good terms with the family after First Lady Bushra Imran's divorce with Khawar Maneka — had played a role in the entire episode.
Maneka's children had been under the impression that there was a conspiracy behind the entire episode, it emerged during that meeting.
According to a report prepared by former Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Imam, Gujjar had expressed his anger that the complaint was not addressed as he believed that the incident had unnecessarily deepened a divide in the Maneka family.
The report stated that the DPO had confidently clarified his position on the issue before the chief minister and the RPO.
He had also made it clear to Gujjar that if it was being expected that he would go to Maneka's dera (residence) and apologise in person, he would not be doing so.
The report quoted Gondal as saying that "DPOs don't go to the deras of people".
According to the report, the DPO had been miffed at the idea of meeting a stranger (Gujjar) as he felt it had been an attempt to pressurise him. He had felt like a stranger was grilling him in the presence of the chief minister and the RPO, the report elaborated.