An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Karachi adjourned the hearing of the Naqeebullah murder case until May 14 after former Malir SSP Rao Anwar — Sindh’s so-called 'encounter specialist' — failed to appear before the court.

At the last hearing, the court had sent Anwar to prison on judicial remand until May 2 (today). The former SSP, 11 of his detained subordinates and 14 absconders are accused of abducting Naqeebullah for ransom and later killing him, along with three other detainees, in a staged encounter in Malir on January 13.

The accused cops had initially dubbed the murder an 'encounter' against militants.

Instead of Anwar, a health certificate declaring that the official had fallen ill was presented before the judge at today's hearing. The court, expressing its displeasure on Anwar's absence, directed the police officials to produce him at the next hearing. The judge warned that the doctor who issued the health certificate for Anwar could be summoned to the court if Anwar is not brought on May 14.

Read: Dawn Investigation: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi

The court also expressed its displeasure over the absence of the investigation officer (IO) of the case, SSP Dr Rizwan, and ordered him to appear today and submit a report on the measures taken so far to arrest other accused nominated in the case.

Family members and friends of Naqeebullah Mehsud staged a protest demonstration outside the court, demanding full justice. "Rao Anwar is not ill but cunning; he is hiding behind a health certificate. We will bring the entire country to a standstill with our protest if Rao Anwar is not brought handcuffed on the next hearing," said a relative of the deceased.

Later in the day, the IO submitted a supplementary charge sheet in the case. According to the charge sheet, the geofencing report highlighted the presence of Rao Anwar and others at the crime scene when the encounter was staged. It said that all the accused were in contact with each other at the time of the shooting. The police report held Anwar prime accused in the case. Anwar was reluctant to cooperate with the investigators, it added.

Authorities keep Rao Anwar at Cantt, instead of prison

The ATC also came to know on Wednesday, through a notification, that the prime accused in the case was being kept at a "sub-jail" in Cantt area, instead of the prison.

According to a notification, a copy of which is available with DawnNewsTV, Multan Lines in Cantt area had been declared sub-jail for Rao Anwar due to security threats to his life in the central prison.

The notification cited two separate telephonic conversations between the Sindh inspector general prisons, Muzaffar Alam Siddique, and SSP Central Prison, Karachi, and the other between the IGP prisons and Sindh home department secretary for allowing to keep Anwar at a sub-jail.

Report already declares Rao Anwar guilty

Anwar, along with other suspects, has also been booked for planting false evidence — pistols and hand grenades — on Mehsud and three others after killing them in the shootout, and later registering a false case against the deceased under the Sindh Arms Act for illegal possession of arms and explosives.

As many as 11 police officials had already been arrested in the case before Anwar was taken into custody following his 'surrender' before the SC in Islamabad on March 21. Around 15 accused police officers have been declared as absconders in the case.

According to the IO’s report submitted earlier in the ATC, policemen in plainclothes had picked Naqeebullah Mehsud, along with two other persons, and took them to the Sachal police post where the two others were separated from Mehsud.

When one of the witnesses asked the policemen about their abduction, a policeman replied that they were being taken to see Rao Anwar and then they (captives) would "make their way to heaven".

The two witnesses — who were eventually released by the police — told investigators that they were later taken to an unknown location where they also saw Mehsud. When one of them spoke to Mehsud, the latter said that police were demanding Rs1 million against his release, but he could not arrange even Rs50,000.

The report further stated that the witnesses, after being released, came to know through the media that Rao Anwar and his associates had allegedly killed Mehsud and three others in a staged encounter in the Shah Latif Town area on Jan 13 and dubbed them as militants.

Mehsud's father lodged a case on Jan 23 against Rao Anwar and others on the basis of the findings of a three-member inquiry committee, which had said that, prima facie, the encounter was coordinated, fake and staged. Police investigators claimed that Anwar played a central role in the case.

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