KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Saturday issued a notice to the special public prosecutor on an application seeking bail for former senior police superintendent Rao Anwar Ahmed in a case relating to extrajudicial killing of Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud and three others in an alleged staged encounter.

The judge of ATC-I directed the special public prosecutor to submit reply on May 14.

The former SSP and his 10 detained subordinates and around 15 absconding officers are accused of abducting Naseemullah, better known as Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud, for ransom and killing him with three other detainees in a staged encounter in Malir on Jan 13.

Ex-SSP’s lawyer terms murder case a product of professional rivalry

Former SSP Rao Anwar — who is currently detained in the Multan Lines in the cantonment area, which was declared as a sub-jail due to reported threats to his life — had moved an application through his counsel Amir Mansoob Qureshi seeking bail in connection with the main case pertaining to the murder of the aspiring model with others registered at the Sachal police station.

In the application, it was argued that an inquiry committee constituted by the IG police on Jan 25, comprising Additional IG Counter-Terrorism Department Sana Ullah Abbasi and others, had assigned the responsibility of the alleged encounter to officials of the Shah Lateef Town police station, who had admittedly participated in an encounter.

Yet the FIR was registered only against former SSP Rao Anwar, the lawyer alleged, adding that the inquiry committee had obtained the technical analysis report of the applicant’s cellphone number, which showed his presence on the scene of the incident or within its vicinity after the alleged encounter at 15.00 to 15.20 hours. However, as per modern devices the applicant had reached the place of the incident at 15.21 or 15.22 hours, he claimed.

The lawyer said that after former SSP voluntarily surrendered to the Supreme Court, the proceedings pending against him were dropped and a joint investigation team was formed.

“The JIT itself is self explanatory as it is neither inculpatory nor exculpatory, as it is based on a report recorded under Section 168 of the CrPC wherein the applicant has not been marked as black, grey or white,” he contended, arguing that the JIT report was an inadmissible document and could only be used as a report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which was itself not a substantial piece of evidence and required serious consideration of the court.

The lawyer claimed that the murder case against his client was, in fact, a ‘case of no evidence’ and a product of professional rivalry.

He pointed out that two eyewitnesses, Muhammad Qasim Daud Khan and Hazrat Ali, had neither implicated the suspended SSP in their statements recorded before the police under Section 161 and before the judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC except at belated stage, one of the prosecution witnesses in his statement recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC had alleged that on Jan 17 he had identified the applicant’s voice after listening to the press statement that took place on Jan 13.

He added that the trial court had granted remand of the applicant for a suitable time, but the prosecution had failed to produce him for identification of voice before the competent magistrate.

The defence counsel added that the statement of an alleged eyewitness, who was allegedly let off after being kidnapped with deceased Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud, was recorded after a delay of 17 days, which also needed further inquiry.

He maintained that the applicant could not be kept in custody for a punishment in advance in the absence of any incriminating material.

The lawyer maintained that the applicant was entitled for bail.

He asked the court to grant post-arrest bail to ex-SSP Rao Anwar.

He argued that the investigation carried out by different senior police officials revealed that neither was there the charge of abduction of the deceased accused persons on Rao Anwar, nor was any ransom demanded from their relatives for their release.

He alleged that the applicant was charged with abduction with mala fide intentions or ulterior motives which required the court’s consideration to bring the case for further probe.

Therefore, he pleaded to the court to grant post-arrest bail to the former SSP.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2018