KARACHI: Police on Monday claimed to have arrested five persons, including a reporter of a daily Urdu-language newspaper, for their alleged involvement in sectarian killings.
DIG-East Amir Farooqi identified the held persons as Syed Matloob Hussain, a reporter of Daily Jang, Syed Imran Haider Zaidi, Waqar Raza, Mohammad Abbas and Syed Mohtasham at a press conference here.
He alleged that Matloob was held for receiving training from abroad and downloading a list of personalities from an official website and submitting it to a “foreign handler” for their possible targeted killing at an “appropriate time”.
Matloob was recently in the news as his family had claimed he was picked up from his home and several media organisations had shown their concerns over his mysterious disappearance.
DIG Farooqi claimed that some of the “missing persons” whose relatives had been protesting outside President Arif Alvi’s house in Muhammad Ali Society in Karachi for the past few days were allegedly involved in “anti-state activities” according to intelligence agencies and their “links with sectarian killings” and a neighbouring country were being “probed”.
Police say reporter Matloob Hussain downloaded details of election candidates for his ‘foreign handler’; Shia Missing Persons Relatives Committee rejects allegations
The officer also said some persons shown as “missing” might have gone underground to avoid arrest.
DIG Farooqi said that suspect Syed Imran Haider Zaidi alias Ali allegedly visited a neighbouring country in 2015 and 2017 and received 25-day “militancy training” twice including information gathering, weapons and explosives handling, surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques, profiling and preparing individual reconnaissance (recce) under the supervision of their “National Guards”.
“Imran Zaidi confessed to his involvement in conducting reconnaissance of more than 28 individuals out of which nine individuals have been targeted including seven by Muhammad alias Chhota group,” said the DIG.
Regarding alleged hiring of media persons, the police officer claimed that Imran Zaidi “tasked other members of the group to find out Shia media persons for recruitment and onward training in a neighbouring country.”
Two FIRs have been registered against him including one under terrorism charge.
About Muhammad Abbas, the DIG said he was a resident of Jafar Tayyar Society, Malir, who is a “dedicated member of Imran group” and also got same training like Imran and conducted recce of various targets. Three FIRs have been registered against him.
On Waqar Raza alias Wikki, the senior officer said that he was resident of F.B. Area and was an “active member of Piyam-i-Wilayat Scouts”. “He used to take along groups of Shia youth to a neighbouring country and also remained involved in collection of funds for Piyam-i-Wilayat Scouts.” Two FIRs have been registered against him.
Syed Mohtasham, a resident of Hussain Hazara Goth in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, got “militancy training from neighbouring country twice in information gathering, weapons and explosives handling, surveillance and counter surveillance techniques, profiling and preparing individual recce”.
“He motivated Matloob alias Owais for joining the group and visiting neighbouring country for training,” claimed the senior officer.
Regarding the detention of journalist Matloob, a resident of Salman Farsi Society, Malir, the DIG alleged he was “recruited by Syed Mohtashim Haider and got 18-day training from a neighbouring country”.
“He [Matloob] downloaded details of contesting candidates of various leaders from the website of the Election Commission of Pakistan for onward submission to a “foreign based handler” for identification and later target killing at appropriate time.”
The DIG added that in addition to these arrests by Malir police, the police’s Counter-Terrorism Department had also shown arrests of six alleged targeted killers belonging to banned outfit Sipah-i-Mohammad Pakistan on April 15.
DIG claims rejected
A spokesman for the Shia Missing Persons Relatives Committee rejected the police claims on Monday maintaining that the suspects shown by police as alleged targeted killers and facilitators had been missing for the past couple of months.
“All of a sudden they were shown in the media with such serious allegations,” said spokesman Rashid Rizvi. “The tone and words of authorities, in fact, can fan sectarianism and damage sectarian harmony. All these persons who were showed as suspects were picked up from different parts of the city a couple of months ago. We have been striving for their release and safe return but unfortunately they are being labelled as criminals and terrorists.”
Mr Rizvi, who is also one of the organisers of the sit-in outside the President’s Karachi residence, told Dawn that their talks with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi late Sunday night did not yield any results.
He said both leaders told them that the government would set up a committee to look into the matter but the relatives of missing persons felt that as in the past, such committees did not produce results.
According to Mr Rizvi, some missing persons have remained missing for the last three to four years and their whereabouts were still unknown. He claimed that out of a total 80 “enforced disappearances” in the country, 41 hailed from Karachi.
Published in Dawn, May 7th, 2019