The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday accepted a petition asking for a probe into the the alleged 'fake' police encounters carried out by former Malir SSP Rao Anwar.
The high court issued notices to Anwar, Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) A.D. Khowaja and Home Secretary Sohail Anwar Siyal along with other high ranking officials to appear before the court on February 20.
Anwar, who is under scrutiny over his alleged involvement in the extrajudicial killing of Waziristan native Naqeebullah Mehsud, earlier failed to appear before the Sindh IGP and the National Commission for Human Rights.
A day earlier, a notification was issued by SP Investigation East Abid Qaimkhani summoning the beleaguered Anwar to appear before the IG and the Commission at 10:30am today.
High-ranking police officials had arrived at the Central Police Office and waited for Anwar and four other officials who had been summoned. However, as the time given passed without any sign of Anwar or the other four, IGP Khowaja and the police officials left the office.
On Sunday, speaking to Dawn, Rao had insisted that he had nothing to do with the incident "even if it was proved as a staged encounter". “I did not mess up the case,” he had said. “Neither I picked up Mehsud, nor interrogated him.”
He said he had given names of two policemen — Ali Akbar and Faisal — to the inquiry committee when he first appeared before it on Friday. “These two police officers may have detained Mehsud, treated him as a terrorist and killed him with three other ‘genuine terrorists’,” he had said, adding that he had visited the scene “after the encounter” to raise the morale of the police team.
“The police party might have misled me,” he told Dawn.
Referring to a police 'encounter' on Saturday on Karachi's Sharea Faisal, he claimed that even the IGP was “misled” by a police team that killed an innocent passer-by, who was the only brother of five sisters. IGP Khowaja had announced a reward of Rs200,000 for the policemen who had taken part in the operation and nabbed two robbers.
Senators condemn Mehsud's murder
Meanwhile, senators on Monday strongly condemned the alleged extrajudicial killing of Mehsud.
Fata's Senator Aurangzeb Khan and Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif raised the issue in the upper house, saying Mehsud was murdered despite being innocent.
"Naqeebullah was the son of entire Pakistan," they said.
The senators suggested that the federal government could investigate the matter since SSP Anwar is an employee of the federal government and this was not an issue of provincial level.
Alleged extrajudicial killing
Anwar, referred to as the ‘encounter specialist’ by some, came under fire earlier this month after Mehsud, a 27-year-old hailing from South Waziristan, was killed in an 'encounter' with a police team being headed by Anwar in Karachi's Shah Latif Town area. Police had claimed Mehsud was affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan — a claim vehemently denied by the deceased's family and relatives.
The killing had triggered widespread uproar on social media after people close to Mehsud said that the 27-year-old was a shop owner interested in modelling and had no links with any militant organisation. They alleged he had been picked up from his clothing shop in Sohrab Goth earlier in January.
A three-member inquiry committee set up to probe Mehsud's killing, according to sources, found that he was killed in a "staged encounter" and had no militant tendencies.
Anwar, however, has stuck to the claim that Mehsud was associated with the militant network and, appearing before the inquiry committee on Friday, submitted 'evidence' to support his stance.
The police chief was expected to appear before the committee again on Sunday but boycotted the police probe, alleging that two members of the police inquiry team held "personal biases" against him. He had claimed that instead of asking him about the incident, the members of police inquiry team “were bent upon implicating him in the case”.
After his failure to appear before the team on Sunday night, DIG East Sultan Khowaja had briefed media personnel that police tried to reach Anwar but his phone was switched off.
Mehsud's family is expected to arrive in Karachi later today to appear before the inquiry committee. On Sunday, the team had said that an FIR would be registered against whosoever is nominated by the victim’s family upon their arrival in the city.
With additional reporting by Nadir Guramani in Islamabad.