ISLAMABAD, July 24: A day after letting the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi off the hook, police on Wednesday declared Imtiaz alias Taji Khokhar innocent in a woman murder case.

After getting a clean chit from the police, Taji Khokhar filed an application with special judge of Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Rana Masood Akhtar seeking withdrawal of bail application.

The Airport Police SHO Ahsan Aziz Niazi appeared before the court and declared that Taji Khokhar was not present on the occasion when Sabra bibi was murdered on August 17, 2012 by the gunmen at Dhoke Gangal near the Islamabad Expressway.

Taji and other accused in the case were initially booked under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and they were tried in the ATC.

The same judge on November 26, 2012 deleted the terrorism related offence of 7 ATA against Taji Khokhar and others and referred the woman murder case to the court of sessions judge of Rawalpindi.

Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench, however, returned the case again to the ATC after the Punjab prosecution department in December challenged the ATC order.

Taji Khokhar, the brother of former deputy speaker Nawaz Khokhar, had a land dispute with the deceased woman who was summoned by a one-man commission, headed by Raja Saimul Haq Satti advocate, to appear at the disputed land, at Dhoke Gangal, near the Expressway.

After the incident, her husband got an FIR registered with the Airport Police, alleging that in the middle of the commission’s proceedings Taji Khokhar and his sons opened fire on his wife killing her on the spot.

Taji’s sons, Umer Khokhar and Farrukh Khokhar, also withdrew their bail applications after the police inspector gave a statement in their favour.

Initially, the airport police prepared a weak case against Taji Khokhar. When the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in December last year took notice of the matter and ordered Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to investigate the murder, the prosecution made a comparatively tough case against the alleged murderer.

The JIT in his report released in December alleged that Taji Khokhar led land grabbers and he had employed a number of persons in his squad. He also enjoyed clout with the local police.

The JIT also pointed out that Taji was facing nine cases of murder, kidnapping of government officials, land grabbing and other crimes in different police stations of Rawalpindi.

According to JIT, Taji’s son Farrukh Khokhar was also nominated in two murder cases.

Umer Khokhar was involved in intentional murder and kidnapping cases, the report added.

It said that other 11 accomplices of Taji nominated in Sabra Bibi murder case were facing a number of cases in different police stations of Rawalpindi.

The JIT report also pointed out that local police including Airport Police SHO were getting monetary benefits from him and recommended action against the police officers.

The JIT comprising senior police officers in its report stated that Sabra had an old dispute (2 kanals and 9 marlas) with Taji Khokhar and on March 2012, both the parties had agreed to settle the issue mutually.

However, Taji Khokhar ended up constructing on the disputed land without giving Sabra compensation.

On her application a local court issued a stay order and on August 13, 2012, appointed a one-man commission headed by lawyer Raja Saimul Haq Satti to record statements of both the parties at the site.

Satti in his report mentioned that at the time of the incident Taji was not present at the site.

It may be mentioned that JIT in its report also alleged that Raja Saimul Haq Satti abetted the accused in committing the crime.

After the JIT prepared the report Taji, in order to avoid arrest, left the country, but returned last month and applied for the pre-arrest bail.

The Supreme Court earlier this year also took suo motu notice of the murder case.

The apex court on April 9 had directed the inspector general of Punjab to arrest the alleged murderer of Sabra bibi and start process for the confiscation of the property of the accused who were absconders in the murder case.

Ghufran Khursheed Imtiazi, counsel for the spouse of the deceased woman, when contacted, said that the police had cleared Taji after receiving hefty bribe.

He said that the he would challenge the police act of giving clean chit to the murderer of unarmed aged woman in the high court.

Prosecutor general Punjab Sadaqat Ali Khan when contacted said that it was the highhandedness of the police inspector as he declared an alleged murderer of a woman innocent.

He said that the JIT, who found Taji guilty, comprised senior police officials and was headed by DIG investigations of Punjab.

“This was a misconduct of the SHO and I will recommend serious action against him for spoiling the prosecution’s case,” he said.

“I have already conveyed my concerns to the relevant quarters and to my information the officer who gave a favorable statement for Taji Khokhar has been suspended,” he added.

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