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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court indicted on Wednesday five accused in a case pertaining to the assassination of renowned social worker and former head of the Orangi Pilot Project Perween Rahman.

Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Mohammad Amjad Hussain Khan, Ahmed Khan alias Ahmed Ali alias Pappu Kashmiri, Mohammad Imran Swati and Mohammad Raheem Swati have been charged with killing Ms Rahman on Manghopir Road in March 2013.

Read: Perween Rahman's murder: the great cover-up

The judge of ATC-13, who is conducting the trial at the judicial complex inside the central prison, read out the charges against the accused persons. However, they pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.

The court summoned the prosecution witnesses with the direction to record their testimonies on April 3.

The prosecution said that some of the detained accused during interrogations confessed to their involvement in the crime and said that local leaders of the Awami National Party had hired Taliban militants to kill Ms Rahman.

‘Local Awami National Party leaders hired Taliban militants to kill OPP chief’

Ayaz and Raheem, local leaders of the ANP, were living near the OPP office and tried to obtain a designated area to build a karate centre, but Ms Rahman refused to allow it, it added.

The prosecution further said that all the accused persons were present in a meeting held in January 2013 at the residence of Raheem in which they planned the assassination of Ms Rahman, adding that they hired local commander of TTP Moosa and Mehfoozullah alias Bhaloo to kill the OPP head.

The investigating officer claimed that two other accused in the case — Qari Bilal and Mehfoozullah — had already been killed while Bilal Ahmed alias Tension had been released after his arrest for lack of evidence while Moosa, Shaldar Khan and others were at large.

A case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Pirabad police station. Later Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was incorporated in the case on a directive of the Supreme Court that also had ordered a judicial inquiry into the case by the then district and sessions judge (West), Ghulam Mustafa Memon.

The judicial inquiry report, placed before the SC in 2014, recommended that the murder be reinvestigated by an efficient, independent and honest police officer. It expressed dissatisfaction over the probe stating that the police investigators had not hesitated to manipulate key aspects of the investigation.

Qari Bilal, the man blamed for Ms Rahman’s murder, was allegedly killed in a shootout with police a day after the killing of the OPP head. However, the inquiry report said the story of the mysterious encounter and recovery of a pistol did not impress them.

A new joint investigation team was constituted last month to review the investigation on the directive of the Supreme Court, which was approached by Aquila Ismail, sister of the slain Ms Rahman, and Zohra Yousuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan for reinvestigation into the case and interrogation of the former investigating officers of the case sub-inspectors Raja Ulfat Hussain and Ashfaq Hussain Baloch for their alleged involvement in manipulating the initial investigation of the case.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2018