KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court has ruled that the then SSP Malir Rao Anwar was not present at the time Naqeebullah Mehsud — an aspiring model from South Waziristan — was extrajudicially killed along with three others in an alleged ‘staged’ encounter.

The ATC-II judge stated this in a 26-page bail order, which was released on Wednesday.

A day earlier, the court had granted bail to the suspended senior police officer, who was kept in temporary detention facility in the Multan Lines in Malir cantonment, subject to furnishing a surety bond worth Rs1 million.

His lawyers deposited the surety amount of Rs1m with the court’s nazir on Wednesday.

Rao barred from leaving the city and country

The suspended SSP, however, could not be released since another case is also pending against him before the same court and his bail plea in the second case is fixed for hearing on July 16.

In the present case, in their arguments on the bail plea, the defence counsel Amir Mansoob Qureshi and Mushtaq Ahmed and prosecution had relied upon the Call Data Record (CDR) of the mobile phones of Rao Anwar.

Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar for the complainant had time and again drawn the court’s attention to the fact that Rao Anwar was present at 1425 hours and 1435 hours at the place of incident.

From the perusal of the CDR report, the judge noted the networking showed that Rao Anwar was not present at the place of the incident from 1500 to 1520 when the alleged fake encounter had taken place on January 13.

Mr Panhwar argued that the accused being the then SSP of Malir had held a press conference at the place of the incident and used the word hum (meaning us) which meant that he was involved in the crime.

The defence counsel produced a WhatsApp message sent by then SHO Amanullah Marwat informing Rao Anwar about the encounter and contended that he being the SSP of the area had held a press conference and used the word ‘us’ for the police force instead of word ‘I’.

It further noted that besides two eyewitnesses Hazrat Ali and Qasim, the complainants themselves were confused; there was no consistency when the two eyewitnesses and Naseebullah Mehsud, alias Naqeebullah, were picked up by the police officials of Rao Anwar.

It also mentioned that the already arrested accused police officials had not told the joint investigation team that Rao Anwar was involved in the encounter.

The judge added that no doubt accused Rao Anwar wanted to leave this country on Jan 23 at 0110 hours by Flight No. EK-615 while FIR No. 40/2018 was registered at 1910 hours, meaning there was no FIR registered against him at that time.

The inquiry report dated Jan 25 stated that the FIR had been registered, the judge noted adding that Rao Anwar had avoided the inquiry but he cannot be termed as fugitive, as no FIR was registered against him on Jan 23 when he had tried to leave the country.

The judge wrote in the order that no doubt as per enquiry report it was a fake encounter, adding Naseebullah, alias Naqeebullah was a liberal man and did not have any extremist tendency.

The judge also mentioned that to curtail the liberty of a person was a serious step in law, adding that if an accused charged was ultimately acquitted at the trial there was no reparation or compensation that could be awarded for the long incarceration.

In the order the judge noted: “From the above discussion, I have come to the conclusion that accused Rao Anwar was not present at the scene of crime on 13.1.2018 from 1500 hours to 120 hours and his case has become one of further inquiry, therefore, I give him bail in the sum of Rs10 lacks with PR bond in the like amount.”

However, the court barred him from leaving the country by ordering him to deposit his passport with the court. “His movements are also restricted, he cannot leave the city, if his family wants to meet him, they can come to Pakistan and meet him,” ordered the judge.

“We also have good hospitals in the country for all diseases; if he falls sick he should get his treatment in Pakistan. He is already on ECL (exit control list),” the judge concluded.

Published in Dawn, July 12th, 2018