KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Monday sentenced a man to 10 years in prison for harbouring “terrorists” in a rented apartment in Urdu Bazaar area in 2017.
The man, Nasruddin, was found guilty of providing a rented house to some militants who later killed themselves along with a female associate and an infant following a seven-hour-long stand-off with law enforcers.
On Monday, the ATC-X judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his verdict reserved earlier after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.
The judge handed down 10-year imprisonment to the accused and also imposed a fine of Rs1 million on him. He would have to undergo an additional one-year imprisonment in case of default.
The court issued perpetual arrest warrants against four absconders — Fazal Ghani alias Shafiq, Mansoor Ahmed alias Bilal, Mohammad Rafiq alias Ubaidullah and Ubaidullah Baloch. The case against them was kept on dormant file until their arrest or surrender.
Rangers say accused Nasruddin rented a flat near Urdu Bazaar to provide shelter to Jundullah militants
According to the prosecution, acting on a tip-off that some militants associated with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were hiding for the last two or three months in a building near Urdu Bazaar, Rangers personnel cordoned off Mariam Manzil on April 24, 2017.
In the meantime, four armed men came in a taxi and started straight firing on Rangers who returned fire, but the attackers managed to escape in narrow lanes, it added.
The Rangers went up to the third floor from where militants threw a grenade that wounded DSR Saeed Ahmed, sepoys Mohammad Salman, Inamullah and Waheed Khan and two passers-by, Faisal and Kabeer. One of the militants died after a grenade exploded in his hand.
Following a seven-hour-long stand-off, an explosion took place inside the flat and when the law enforcers entered there they found a number of bodies.
They were identified as Mohammad Zahid alias Faheem (who died after a grenade exploded in his hand), Syed Hafizullah Quettawala, Mohammad Naeem and female facilitator Afshan. Naeem and Afshan were reportedly husband and wife and had a five-month-old daughter.
After probing the incident, the investigating officer charge-sheeted Nasruddin along with four deceased and their four absconding accomplices, declaring them associated with the banned militant outfit Jundullah.
Nasruddin was arrested and indicted, but he pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges.
Defence counsel Ajab Khan Khattak submitted that his client Nasruddin was innocent as he had committed no offence.
The counsel contended that the accused had no direct or indirect concern with the present case, as nothing was recovered from his possession which could have otherwise linked him to the case.
He argued that the prosecution’s case was full of doubts and errors, as the tenancy agreement being relied upon by a Rangers prosecutor was false, fabricated and managed since no agreement was ever executed or signed by the accused.
The defence counsel also argued that the statements recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC relied upon by the prosecution were highly doubtful, as the same were recorded without adopting the established rules and guidelines of the apex courts.
He submitted that Nasruddin also produced a witness in his defence, who fully supported his version. Lastly, he contended that his client was absolutely innocent and asked the judge to acquit him of the false, fabricated and managed charges levelled against him by the prosecution.
A defence witness deposed that he was a milk seller having a shop at Ratan Talao and he had known the accused for the last 20-25 years.
He testified that Nasruddin initially worked as a waiter at his father’s shop and after his death he set up his own teashop.
Rangers prosecutor Jawed Awan submitted that all the prosecution witnesses had fully supported the case and deposed against the accused and rightly assigned his role in the case.
He argued that the present accused obtained a flat (place of incident) on rent from prosecution witness Javaidul Haq for the sole purpose of harbouring or sheltering the terrorists, who during an encounter with the Rangers officials, got killed.
The prosecutor alleged that the accused persons also committed the murder of an infant girl, who was present with them in the flat. The prosecution had brought sufficient evidence on record to connect the present accused with the commission of the offence, he submitted.
A case under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 324 (attempted murder), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) read with the Sections 3/4 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 read with Sections 11-H 3(a)(b), 11-H 4 and 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was registered at the Counter-Terrorism Department police station.
Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019