RAHIM YAR KHAN: A relative of two murder convicts who were recently ordered acquitted by the Supreme Court in a case in which they were sent to the gallows one year ago says the family was not provided proper legal guidance.

Karam Hussain, a cousin of Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar, told this correspondent that they were not kept in the loop. The family, he claimed, met both brothers in jail before execution and later received their bodies which they buried in a local graveyard.

Qadir and Sarwar, who belonged to Sadiqabad’s Mauza Ranjhay Khan which is about 13km from here, were executed in October 2015 at the Bahawalpur Central Jail. In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court acquitted them on the basis of “contradictory statements”.

It all started when Akmal, son of Abdul Qadir, kidnapped Ghulam Qadir’s daughter Salma. The girl broke free and returned home after three months and, in her statement before the court, alleged that the kidnappers had raped her.

Local chiefs of Gopang tribe tried their best to track down Akmal but in vain.

After some time, Abdul Qadir and Akmal were killed as was Salma. The Sadiqabad Saddar police arrested eight people including Qadir and Sarwar on charges of killing Abdul Qadir, his son Akmal and Salma on Feb 2, 2002.

A trial court released six nominated accused and handed down life imprisonment on two counts to Ghulam Fareed and death on three counts to Ghulam Qadir and Sarwar. The Lahore High Court’s Bahawalpur Bench upheld the decision.

On an appeal against the high court decision, two judges of the apex court upheld it on the grounds of murder of Abdul Qadir and Akmal but accepted the plea in Salma’s case.

Later, the SC took suo motu notice and on the basis of contradictions in the statements of an eyewitness, freed Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar on Oct 20 last.

An officer of the Central Jail, Bahawalpur, told Dawn that Qadir and Sarwar were executed on Oct 13, 2015, after their mercy petition was turned down by the president. They were shifted to Bahawalpur jail due to unavailability of an executioner in Rahim Yar Khan.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2016