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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court has allowed the senior deputy convener of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Pakistan faction (MQM-P), Amir Khan, to travel abroad for 20 days.

Amir Khan with a former incharge of security of the now sealed MQM headquarters Nine Zero, Minhaj Qazi, and their absconding accomplices have been charged with providing shelter to wanted criminals at Nine Zero in Azizabad and using them for terrorist activities.

On Saturday, the case was fixed before the ATC-XVII judge, when the defence counsel for Amir Khan moved an application.

Advocate Shaukat Hayat submitted that his client intended to travel to the Saudia Arabia to perform Umrah, therefore, he requested to the court to grant him permission to travel out of the country and also exempt him from personal appearance before the court for 20 days.

The defence counsel maintained that the court had already granted him bail in the present case against a surety of Rs2 million and restrained him from leaving the country without seeking prior permission from the court.

The judge, who is conducting the trial at the judicial complex inside the Karachi Central Prison, allowed the applicant to travel abroad and exempted him from personal appearance for 20 days. The matter was fixed on Jan 25.

The Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, had detained the MQM leader along with several others during a pre-dawn raid at and around the party headquarters on March 11, 2015.

According to the prosecution, the paramilitary force had arrested Amir Khan and 26 other armed suspects, including Faisal Mehmood, aka Mota, who was sentenced to death in absentia in the journalist Wali Babar murder case, during the raid.

It said the MQM leader was incharge of the security of the party headquarters and he along with five others had allegedly provided shelter to criminals and had been using them for terrorist activities in the city. A joint investigation team recommended registration of a case against the MQM leader, it concluded.

A case was registered under sections 11-V (directing terrorist activities), 21-J (harbouring any person who committed an offence under this act) and 7 (punishment for act of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 on a complaint of a Rangers’ official at the Azizabad police station.

Raees Mama, Shahzad Mullah, Imran Ijaz Niazi and Naeem, aka Mullah, have been declared as proclaimed officers in the case.

Baldia factory fire case

Meanwhile, an antiterrorism court on Saturday recorded the statements of 12 prosecution witnesses in a case pertaining to the Baldia factory fire.

The case was fixed before the ATC-VI judge, when the detained suspect Abdul Rehman aka Bhola and Zubair aka Chariya were produced from the prison. MQM lawmaker Mr Rauf Siddiqui also appeared.

The investigating officer produced 12 prosecution witnesses, including three eyewitnesses and nine relatives of the factory workers, who had perished in the incident.

The eyewitnesses testified used to work at the Ali Enterprises factory and had gone to the work as usual on the Sept 11, 2012.

However, they deposed that all of sudden a fire broke out in the building. First the thick smoke filled the building and then a deadly fire engulfed the entire premises, they added recalling as the events unfolded inside the locked premises of the readymade garments production factory.

The eyewitnesses said they somehow had managed to break a window and jumped off the burning factory building and saved their lives. The witnesses further told that they suffered from injuries in the incident.

Other witnesses, who were relatives of the nine perished workers, also deposed that their loved ones used to work at the Ali Enterprises and had gone on the day of the incident. The witnesses said they came to know that the factory had caught fire in which their relatives had died.

The judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the Karachi central prison, recorded their testimonies and summoned more witnesses on Jan 12.

There are around 670 witnesses listed by the prosecution in the case.

Nine accused — including MQM lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui, Abdul Rehman and Zubair — have been charged with setting ablaze a garments factory in Baldia Town with the help of its four gatekeepers — Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad.

The prosecution claimed that the suspects acted on the instruction of the then head of the MQM Karachi Tanzeemi Committee, Hammad Siddiqui, after the factory owners did not pay protection money.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2019

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