PESHAWAR: After remaining absconder for around 28 years, accused in the murder case of young journalist Mansoor Ahmad was arrested when his pre-arrest bail plea was turned down by Peshawar district and sessions judge.

Soon after District Judge Mohammad Younas pronounced the order, the personnel of University Campus police took the suspect, Mohammad Sohail, into custody.

Late Mansoor Ahmad, 26, was a special correspondent of The Democrat newspaper. He was attacked at his residence situated at Postal Colony, University of Peshawar. The attackers hit him on his head and threw acid on him during wee hours on June 27, 1990.

He had received serious burns injuries and expired after few days of the occurrence. The then prime minister Benazir Bhutto and chief minister Aftab Sherpao had ordered his treatment abroad. He had expired at Islamabad International Airport before he was shifted to a plane so as to take him to London for specialised treatment.

The attack on Mansoor had triggered widespread protests by journalists across the country and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Khyber Union of Journalists had staged several demonstrations.

A local judicial magistrate had declared Mohammad Sohail a proclaimed offender on June 9, 1996, and issued his perpetual arrest warrants. The suspect remained absconder for over two decades and surfaced few days ago and filed pre-arrest bail petition.

The district judge had earlier granted him interim pre-arrest bail on September 18, but did not confirm the same after completion of arguments by both the parties. The court pronounced that the petitioner did not deserve to be extended the concession of pre-arrest bail.

There were reports that the petitioner had been absconding in Afghanistan.

The local police had also been probing the case to ascertain whether the deceased was killed because of his journalistic work or was having any personal issue with the petitioner.

A panel of lawyers including Syed Abdul Fayyaz, Ali Azeem Afridi and Yousaf Riaz appeared for the deceased’s family and contended that the petitioner had absconded for 28 long years. They said that no mala-fide was pointed out by the petitioner on behalf of the local police or the complainant.

They contended that police were still probing the case which was not possible without the arrest of the accused. They requested the court not to confirm his pre-arrest bail as it would inflict irreparable loss to the prosecution case.

The counsel of the petitioner, Lateef Afridi, contended that there was no evidence against his client to connect him with the commission of the offence.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2018