KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Thursday directed the prosecutor to submit the report of a joint investigation team constituted on the directives of the Supreme Court to re-investigate a case pertaining to murder of renowned social rights activist Perween Rahman.
Five detained accused — Imran Swati, his father Abdul Raheem Swati along with three co-accused Ayaz Shamzai, alias Swati; Amjad Hussain Khan and Ahmed Khan, alias Ahmed Ali, alias Pappu Kashmiri — have been charged with her murder.
Perween Rahman, head of the Orangi Pilot Project, who devoted her life to the development of impoverished neighbourhoods, was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.
On Thursday, the bail applications of three detained suspects were fixed before the ATC-XIII judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison.
Three accused — Imran Swati, Ayaz Shamzai and Amjad Hussain — had moved applications through defence counsel seeking grant of post-arrest bail to them in the present case.
The defence counsel, Imroze Khan, and others argued that the applicants were behind the bars for around last four years and were entitled for the post-arrest bail on statutory grounds.
They further argued that the case was fixed at the stage of final arguments, but the proceedings were stayed by the Sindh High Court as the complainant moved an application before the Supreme Court seeking re-investigation of the case.
The counsel submitted that the trial proceedings had been halted for around last four months as a new joint investigation team of the federal investigation agency was constituted by the Supreme Court to re-investigate the matter.
The counsel argued that three JITs had already been constituted in the case, adding that the complainant was deliberately trying to get the proceedings delayed with mala fide intentions. Therefore, they pleaded to grant post-arrest bail to the three applicants.
The judge inquired about the report of the new JIT constituted to probe the matter afresh.
The state prosecutor informed the judge that the JIT had grilled the accused persons in the prison.
However, the defence counsel complained that they had not received any report of the JIT. Therefore, the judge directed the prosecutor to submit a copy of the report of the SC-appointed fresh joint investigation team before the court and adjourned the hearing till May 30.
In April, the court had allowed an application moved by a special public prosecutor for the FIA stating that the SC had recently constituted a new JIT to probe the murder afresh.
Headed by the director-general of the counterterrorism wing of the federal investigation agency, the five-member team reportedly comprises officers from other law enforcement agencies as its members. The court was requested to allow the JIT members to interrogate the five accused detained in the prison.
According to the prosecution, some of the detained accused during interrogations had confessed to their involvement in the crime and disclosed that local leaders of the Awami National Party had hired Taliban militants to kill Perween Rahman.
Ayaz and Raheem, said to be local leaders of the ANP, were living near the OPP office and allegedly tried to obtain a designated area to build a karate centre, but Perween Rahman refused to allow it, it added.
The prosecution further said that all the accused were present in a meeting held in January 2013 at the residence of Raheem in which they planned the assassination of Perween Rahman, adding that they hired local commander of TTP Moosa and Mehfoozullah, alias Bhaloo, to kill the OPP head.
Initially, a case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Pirabad police station.
In April 2014, the Supreme Court had ordered a fresh probe into Perween Rahman’s murder after a judicial inquiry conducted on its order revealed that then IO Ulfat and other police officers had manipulated the investigation.
Subsequently, Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was incorporated in the case on the basis of judicial inquiry conducted by the then district and sessions judge (west) Ghulam Mustafa Memon on the orders of the SC.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019