The lengthy struggle of the civil society and family of Maqsood — an innocent man killed in a shootout in January on Sharea Faisal — bore fruit on Saturday when Karachi police added Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) to the first information report (FIR) of the incident.

In a letter written to the court, Deputy Superintendent Police Mohammad Zubair Khan — the case's investigating officer (IO) — stated that the ATA clause was added to the FIR 91/2018 after it was found during the investigation that the incident had become a cause of terror and fear.

A month after the incident, FIR 91/2018 was filed against four policemen under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code through an order of the court.

The IO also sought 15 more days to submit the charge sheet, informing the court that the investigation into the initial FIR 41/2018 — filed soon after the incident by the police — is underway.

Conducted by DIG West Amir Farooqi, a police inquiry had earlier found that the facts mentioned in the FIR were untrue.

On January 20, Maqsood — who was travelling in a rickshaw — was caught in a ‘crossfire’ between street bandits and police on Sharea Faisal.

The police had initially claimed that the deceased was an accomplice of the apprehended bandits. However, they had to withdraw that version after Maqsood’s family reached the hospital and shared the true story with the media.

The family said that Maqsood was merely travelling with his rickshaw driver friend, Abdul Rauf, when the firing started and clarified that he had nothing to do with the bandits or the 'encounter'.

The police, subsequently, admitted that Maqsood was innocent but claimed that he was killed by the held bandits, who were actually aiming at the police.

That version of the police also turned out to incorrect as, after the consistent effort of Maqsood’s family and the civil society, a fresh investigation into the incident was launched.

“So far, it appears to be a point-blank murder by the men in uniform [policemen],” said an official on Tuesday while sharing the findings of the fresh probe.

Unarmed bandits

During the course of the fresh probe, the official said, the investigators found several discrepancies in the statements of policemen who took part in the 'encounter'. The investigation team also recorded statements of the rickshaw driver Abdul Rauf, who also suffered a bullet wound, passenger Murtaza and held bandit Ali Eidain in jail.

“Rauf and Murtaza were not telling the truth out of fear,” said the official. “Most probably they were threatened by the same policemen. The investigation team also recorded statements of eyewitnesses. The dots were connected and within a few days the investigation was clear that Maqsood and Rauf were not hit by dacoits’ firing.

“Ali Eidain, the arrested bandit, actually told the investigation team that they were not armed. However, this fact was not corroborated through any other independent source or evidence. Finally the team got the CCTV [closed-circuit television] cameras’ footage that exposed each and every aspect of the story.”

The official said that arrested suspects Babar and Eidain were professional criminals and had a history of such activities and were also wanted by the Punjab police for several cases registered in Lahore and Multan. The police party which took part in the “encounter” was genuinely looking for them and acting on a tip-off they intercepted them on main Sharea Faisal.

“But the way the policemen fired on Rauf and Maqsood was totally unwarranted and unnecessary. The dacoits had surrendered before the police party and they were unarmed. Indiscriminate firing at the rickshaw without confirming the identity [of the occupants] is simply barbaric. It is a miracle that Murtaza and Rauf survived,” said the official.

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