One year on, trial in Naqeeb murder case yet to begin

Updated January 14, 2019

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An antiterrorism court is set to announce order on bail pleas of 10 policemen today. ─ Photo courtesy Facbeook
An antiterrorism court is set to announce order on bail pleas of 10 policemen today. ─ Photo courtesy Facbeook

KARACHI: The trial pertaining to extrajudicial killing of aspiring Waziristan model Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud and three others in an staged encounter has yet to formally begin, as the main suspect, former SSP Rao Anwar, and his 25 subordinates have not been indicted one year after the incident, it emerged on Sunday.

SSP Rao Anwar with his subordinates has been booked for killing Naqeeb and three others after dubbing them ‘Taliban militants’ in a ‘fake’ shoot-out on Jan 13, 2018.

The Anti-Terrorism Court No 2 had granted bail to Rao in the two cases pertaining to the kidnapping and murder as well as registering fake criminal cases against the victims in July last.

An antiterrorism court is set to announce order on bail pleas of 10 policemen today

The killing of the young Mehsud had sparked widespread protests by the civil society and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of the killings.

After eluding law enforcers for two months and upon being offered opportunities by the CJP to surrender, the former SSP had finally appeared before the Supreme Court and was subsequently arrested in Islamabad.

Instead of detaining him in the Karachi central prison, jail authorities had shifted him to a house due to alleged security concerns, declaring it a sub-jail in the Malir Cantonment area.

Four other suspects — former DSP Qamar, Muhammad Yaseen, Supurd Hussain and Khizar Hayat — have also been granted bail.

After slain model’s father Khan Muhammad Mehsud, who is the complainant in the main case, showed no confidence in the ATC-II, the Sindh High Court had transferred the cases to the ATC-III on Nov 5.

“The formal trial has not taken off so far because none of the suspects has been indicted by the trial court in the cases,” Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, the counsel for the complainant Mehsud, had told Dawn after attending the last hearing on Jan 6.

On the last hearing, the ATC-III had reserved its order on applications filed by 10 police officials, who remained absconding for as many months and then approached the court seeking pre-arrest bail to avoid their arrest in the cases.

“The court will announce its verdict on their bail pleas on Jan 14 [today],” judicial staff told Dawn, adding that the hearing in the main case was fixed for Jan 30.

Around six suspended police officials — Sub-Inspector Sheikh Mohammad Shoaib alias Shoaib Shooter, SI Gada Hussain, SI Amanullah Marwat, Head Constable Shafqat Hussain, Constables Mohsin Abbas, Raja Shamim, Rana Riaz — are still absconding in the case.

Police probe finds Rao Anwar, others guilty

On May 2, 2018 the trial court had accepted a supplementary investigation report submitted by investigating officer SSP Dr Rizwan Ahmed, who had charge-sheeted all the suspended policemen in the cases.

The supplementary charge sheet that mentioned that the forensic reports of the weapons, a technical analysis of the call detail records (CDR), TV interviews of Rao Anwar and circumstantial evidence suggested the involvement of Rao Anwar and his team members in the extrajudicial killing and dubbing the victims as terrorists.

There was no criminal record of the victims against whom the suspects had highlighted ‘fake stories in the media’ to hush up the extrajudicial killings, the supplementary charge sheet said, alleging that during the investigation the nominated policemen were also found involved in destroying evidence, misusing their official authority in an attempt to cover up their other unlawful acts.

It further mentioned that in the light of all the evidence and statements of the witnesses, the arrested suspects, including Rao Anwar, were involved in kidnapping for ransom, murder and destruction of the evidence.

It had stated that the CDR showed the presence of Rao Anwar at the crime scene between 2.55am and 3.21am, adding that his presence was also recorded near the New Sabzi Mandi on Superhighway on Jan 4, 5, 8, 9 and 13.

The CDR analysis further revealed that PC Feroze, former SHO Marwat and ASI Hussain were present at the crime scene together on Jan 12, 2018 while the presence of SI Anwar, ASI Hussain, ASI Khair Mohammad and Raja Shamim was also recorded on Jan 13 last year.

It showed that PC Feroze and ASI Hussain contacted each other through mobile phones 18 times on the day of the incident and a day before it while PC Feroze also changed his mobile SIM cards and mobile phones several times after the incident.

“The digital evidence show the important role of the suspects in planning and execution of the fake encounter, while it also suggest their involvement in failure to report the crime and abetting the police party in the fake encounter,” it stated.

The CDR analysis further showed that mobile phones of Mohsin Abbas and Raja Riaz were switched off at the time of the encounter and former DSP Qamar Ahmed had constantly been in contact with the police involved in the fake encounter.

It further mentioned that former ASI Allahyar, former HC Mohammad Iqbal, former constables Arshad Ali, Ghulam Nazik, Shafiq Ahmed and Abdul Wali were found involved in kidnapping Naqeeb and his friends from the Sher Agha hotel and taking them to the Abbas Town police post and trying to cover up the whole episode, which was an offence under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

It added that former constables Abbas and Imran Kazmi were found involved in the kidnapping, torture and demanding ransom for the victims’ release.

It said former ASI Akbar Mallah’s role in the fake encounter was determined while the former DSP was found involved in making entries of the fake encounter, tampering with the evidence and facilitating the police party involved in fake encounter.

The supplementary charge sheet revealed that there was no criminal record of the victims against whom the suspects had highlighted fake stories in the media to hush up the extrajudicial killings. The police were also found involved in destroying the evidence, misusing their official authority in an attempt to cover up their other unlawful acts.

The supplementary charge sheet mentioned that in the light of all the evidence and statements of the witnesses, the arrested suspects, including Rao Anwar, were involved in kidnapping for ransom, murder and destroying the evidence.

Court yet to take up eyewitness’s affidavit

The trial court has yet to consider a personal affidavit filed by HC Shahzada Jahangir in which he deviated from his initial statement given to the police against Rao Anwar and his subordinates regarding their involvement in the extrajudicial killing.

In the affidavit, he said that he was not present at the place of the incident on January 13, 2018.

Deviating from his earlier statement, Jahangir stated that after seven or eight days of his arrest he was threatened and forced to give a statement. He had alleged that he was coerced to give the statement, which was not based on facts and the police had tortured him.

Earlier, he had told the IO that he was a close aide of then Shah Latif Town SHO Marwat, who on Jan 13 called him at the place of incident and upon arriving there he found the SHO and other police officials present there while the four detained men were also in their custody.

In the meantime, Rao Anwar, DSP Qamar, then SHO Shaikh and other police officials also arrived there and then Marwat, Shoaib and others took the detained men to an abandoned poultry farm, he said, adding that they heard gunshots and thereafter Marwat and other police officials came out of the poultry farm and asked him to do the paperwork.

He said that he found the bodies of the detained men in the building.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2019