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SC requested to form commission to probe 444 killings in Karachi

Updated February 21, 2019

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Social activists file joint petition about ‘encounters’ carried out by SSP Rao Anwar and his team. — File photo
Social activists file joint petition about ‘encounters’ carried out by SSP Rao Anwar and his team. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Some social activists on Wednesday requested the Supreme Court to appoint a broad-based and independent commission to investigate whether hundreds of extrajudicial killings allegedly carried out under the supervision of suspended police officer of Karachi Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan involved genuine encounters or not.

Dawn Investigations: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi

Filed by senior counsel Faisal Siddiqi, a joint petition submitted on behalf of Muhammad Khan, the father of Naqeebullah Mehsud, Muhammad Jibran Nasir, Jamshed Raza Mahmood, Nazim Fida Hussain Haji and Aquila Ismail highlighted the 444 extrajudicial killings allegedly carried out by former SSP Rao Anwar and his alleged gang of police officers, and sought a declaration that inaction on the part of Sindh government and Sindh’s inspector general of police on the “encounters” was a violation of their fundamental and constitutional rights and those of other citizens of the country.

Explore: The extrajudicial killings before Naqeebullah Mehsud

SSP Rao Anwar came under the media spotlight after becoming a prime suspect in the killing of 27-year-old Naqeebullah Mehsud, who hailed from South Waziristan. On March 21, the police officer surrendered before the apex court which ordered the formation of a five-member joint investigation team headed by additional inspector general of Sindh police, Aftab Pathan, and instructed that his name be put on the Exit Control List.

Take a look: Extrajudicial killings

Social activists file joint petition about ‘encounters’ carried out by SSP Rao Anwar and his team

The joint petition requested the court to appoint a broad-based and independent commission headed by a high court or Supreme Court judge to investigate the alleged encounters. The commission should also comprise relevant and respected civil society persons, including experts.

The petition said the proposed commission should conduct a detailed inquiry and submit a report describing whether or not the 444 extrajudicial killings were carried out during “genuine encounters” taking place in accordance with the law.

Also read: How the system failed us

The report should also explain what administrative and penal action should be taken against the officers concerned if any or all of these extrajudicial killings were illegal.

The commission should also identify civil servants and politicians, including but not limited to Sindh’s police officers, who prevented and subverted the accountability of any of these illegal extrajudicial killings conducted by SSP Rao Anwar and his team.

The commission should also be mandated to determine whether or not the victims of such extrajudicial killings are entitled to compensation from the government and if such compensation should be recovered from the police officers found involved.

The commission should also suggest measures to prevent extrajudicial killings from taking place in future and furnish its report within a period of three months.

The petition also requested the court to order the provincial government as well as the inspector general of Sindh police to provide copies of the entire official record of the 444 extrajudicial killings.

The petition has annexed a summary of police encounter cases carried out in the District Malir (Karachi) from July 2011 to Jan 2018, which clearly revealed that 444 people had been killed in suspicious encounters during the tenure of Rao Anwar.

The petition pointed out that Sindh police had provided the summary to the counsel which was submitted before the apex court in a different case, the authenticity of which was never denied by police.

The petition highlighted that one of the petitioners, Muhammad Khan, was rigorously pursuing his case against Rao Anwar and his gang at all forums, including the Anti-Terrorism Court, the Sindh High Court, the Supreme Court and the National Accountability Bureau.

It has been more than ten months since SSP Rao Anwar has been arrested but till date no action has been taken against him.

On Feb 7, a letter was sent to IG Sindh by Muhammad Khan with a request that an inquiry be initiated against Rao Anwar and his gang regarding their involvement in extrajudicial killings. Till date no response has been received and no action or inquiry has been initiated, according to the petition.

The petition argued that extrajudicial killings at such a massive scale, without holding any inquiry against Rao Anwar and his gang, was a violation of the dignity of the victims and showed the officer was extremely influential.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019