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KARACHI, Aug 31: Police told an anti-terrorism court on Saturday that five of the nine suspects arrested in the Safari Park encounter case had been released for want of evidence.

Abdul Ghaffar, Mohabbat Ali, Abdul Malik, Samiullah, Imtiaz, Ahmer, Ranjhan, Imran alias Toofan and Allah Wadayo were arrested on Aug 15 for their alleged involvement in a shoot-out with police and carrying unlicensed weapons.

All of them were remanded in police custody.

The police produced four suspects — Ranjhan, Imran, Ahmer and Allah Wadayo — in court on Saturday and also submitted a report that the remaining suspects were released under Section 169 (release of accused when evidence deficient) of the criminal procedure code since no evidence was found against them during the investigation of the cases.

Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso of the ATC-I sent the four suspects to prison on judicial remand till Sept 12 and directed the police to submit a charge-sheet against them.

The court also sought a detailed report under Section 173 of the CrPC about the released suspects by the next date of hearing.

According to the prosecution, DSP Qasim Ghauri and Assistant Sub-Inspector Asif were killed and five other police officers were wounded during a five-hour-long encounter in and around the Safari Park on Aug 15.

The police arrested the suspects after the shoot-out and found illicit weapons in their possession.

Three of their accomplices, identified as Zaman Shah, Amir Bux Chachar and Umaid Ali, were killed in the gun battle, it added.

A case (FIR 544/13) was registered under Sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 302 (premeditated murder), 324 (attempted murder), 353 (criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 34 (common intension) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gulistan-i-Jauhar police station.

The suspects were also booked under Section 23-A of the Sindh Arms Ordinance for allegedly carrying unlicensed weapons at the time of their arrest.

DIG says encounter was not fake

Declaring that the Safari Park encounter was not fake, CIA DIG Sultan Khawaja defended the release of the five suspects, saying they were not involved in crime.

Speaking at a press conference, he said the police checked every record and fact before concluding that five of the suspects were not involved in the gunfight with the police.

The CCTV footage acquired by the police did not show these five men were attacking the police, he added.

“Those who attacked the police were identified,” he said. “The entire episode was the result of a land dispute and between two groups. The role of our SHO (Inspector Malik Saleem) is quite dubious and that fact is also being investigated.”

He said that two policemen, ASI Muhammad Nadim and Constable Wasim Husaain, had mediated between the land mafia and the police.

It emerged during the course of investigation that some police officials were supporting Arshad Shah Bukhari group for occupying certain pieces of land that led to this episode.

“DSP Qasim Ghauri and other policemen were bold, honest and aggressive policemen. They sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and no one should have any doubt about it. However, it’s not justified to charge any innocent person for the crime of others,” he said.