A committee comprising the Inspector General Police (IGP) Counter-terrorism Department (CTD) Sanaullah Abbasi and DIGs South and East was formed on Thursday, on the directives of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, to investigate the alleged extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah who was reportedly shot dead in a "staged encounter".
A notification issued by the office of provincial inspector general police said the committee is mandated to "assess the genuineness of encounter" and "dig out profile of the deceased", and directed to submit its findings within three days.
Earlier in the day, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal took notice of the incident, following reports that the 27-year-old hailing from South Waziristan was innocent, and ordered deputy inspector general South to personally conduct an inquiry into the matter following Bilawal's directions.
Naqeebullah was allegedly among the four suspects killed in an 'encounter' with a police team headed by Senior Superintendent of Police Rao Anwar in the Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of the metropolis last week.
The police claim that the deceased was a militant affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
However, a statement reportedly issued by a spokesman of TTP's South Waziristan chapter termed SSP Anwar's claim as "baseless". It said Naqeebullah had no links with the banned militant outfit.
Anwar had alleged at the time that the slain suspects were involved in several high-profile terror cases and had ties with terrorist outfits Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ) and the militant Islamic State (IS). However, Naqeebullah — whose name is given as Naseemullah on his national identity card — was not mentioned by name at the time.
But a relative of Naqeebullah disputed SSP Anwar's claim that the slain youth was a former commander of the TTP in South Waziristan's Makeen tehsil, saying instead that the deceased was, in fact, a shop owner fond of modelling.
The relative, who did not wish to be named, told Dawn that Naqeebullah was allegedly taken away by men in plainclothes from his clothing shop in Sohrab Goth earlier this month. He said the deceased had previously worked at a petrol pump at Hub Chowki in Balochistan and "had no association with any militant outfit".
The relative provided several photos of Naqeebullah to demonstrate his claim that the deceased was fond of modelling. A Facebook page said to be Naqeebullah's personal profile contains several public photos that appear to have been taken for a modelling photo shoot. His name is spelt Naqib Maseed on the page and a second name, 'Veer', appears in parentheses.
According to the relative, the family had approached the Chhipa Welfare Association on Wednesday, where they were handed over Naqeebullah's body.
Residents of Karachi on Thursday staged a protest against SSP Anwar for his role in the 'encounter' against Naqeebullah.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) also asked the Sindh chief minister to look into the alleged extra-judicial killing.
SSP Anwar claims deceased was a militant
SSP Anwar, on the other hand, maintains that Naqeebulah was involved in major acts of terrorism and was residing in an apartment on Abul Hassan Ispahani Road. The SSP has also issued a document detailing Naqeebulah's path to militancy.
According to the police officer, Naqeebulah was born on January 1, 1991, in a village of South Waziristan's Makeen tehsil. He allegedly received religious education from a madressah.
He was reported to be a brother-in-law of Sher Dawood, a commander of the TTP, who motivated him to join the banned outfit, the SSP said. He allegedly received physical and weapons training in 2007/2008 at a TTP camp in Miranshah.
Naqeebulah was also associated with TTP commander Sanaullah Mehsud, claimed SSP Anwar, who survived a “suicide attack” on Tuesday evening.
After a military operation was launched in the area in 2007, the deceased, along with an accomplice, killed a Frontier Constabulary (FC) Subedar, Muhammad Alam, because they suspected him to be an ‘informer’ against TTP militants.
Naqeebullah, along with his brother-in-law and others, allegedly also carried out an attack on a military convoy in Makeen in which several soldiers were martyred, if the SSP is to be believed.
“He was a close aide of a TTP commander, Wahab, who was involved in the bombing at Karsaz during slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto's rally on October 18, 2007," claimed SSP Anwar.
However, there has been no other confirmation of these allegations levelled by the SSP.
Social media reaction
After news emerged of Naqeebullah's death, a large number of people posted condolence messages on his Facebook timeline, with some including photos of his body in a coffin.
On Facebook group Halaat Updates, where Karachiites discuss everything from electricity outages to open manholes, social media users accused SSP Anwar of staging fake encounters for personal benefit .
"Many black sheeps in police do fake encounters to get rewards and promotions," wrote one user. Another wondered whether the man was killed "because he belonged to the tribal areas".
One Facebook user posted a screenshot of a conversation he said he had had with Naqibullah, in which the latter had reportedly wished that his son would join the Pakistan Army.
"This was a strange terrorist who wanted his son to become an army officer," the user wrote. The user's claim could not be verified by Dawn, and SSP Anwar had claimed in his factsheet that Naqeebullah had no wife and children.
The ‘encounter specialist’
Rao Anwar, called the ‘encounter specialist’ by some, is known for carrying out 'encounters' of controversial nature against outlaws and has claimed in the past to have killed militants belonging to various terrorist organisations and the then-Mohajir Qaumi Movement activists during his raids.
Know more: Footprints: Justice, of sorts
The majority of such cases have remained unquestioned, apart from a few where the families of those shot dead have moved the court.