An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Buner on Thursday acquitted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmaker Baldev Kumar, the prime suspect in the 2016 murder of Soran Singh — the then adviser to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister. Besides Kumar, five other suspects were also acquitted in the same case due to lack of evidence.

Soran Singh, a special assistant to the chief minister on minority affairs, was gunned down near his house in Pir Baba area of Buner district on April 22, 2016. The police later arrested Baldev Kumar and two others in connection with the killing. Three other suspects were also picked up later in connection with the case.

Kumar was arrested when the police claimed that the motive for the murder was to take Singh's position as an MPA.

The police claim stemmed from the fact Kumar's name was on the second place in the priority list of candidates which the PTI had submitted for the reserved seats for minorities in the 2013 general elections.

After Singh's murder, Kumar was declared MPA-elect by the Election Commission of Pakistan. However, the MPA-elect has been in jail since 2016 with the seat lying vacant.

In February this year, KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar had issued the production order for the then under-trial Kumar to take oath of his office in line with the directives of the Peshawar High Court.

The court had ordered the issuance of the production order for Kumar to take oath and cast vote in the Senate elections.

However, the oath-taking did not place amid retaliation from other law makers in the KP Assembly.

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