KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to two accused, said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, in a case pertaining to the double murder of workers of the rival Pak Sarzameen Party.

Muhammad Raheem and Muhammad Danish were found guilty of killing Abdul Majid and Muhammad Rashid over political rivalry in July 2017 within the remit of the Orangi Town police station.

The court had already issued perpetual arrest warrants for the MQM’s London-based founder Altaf Hussain, Nadeem Nusrat, Bilal Anees, alias Billa, Muhammad Rizwan, alias Hawan, Owais, Abdul Rasheed, alias Bahu Bali, Qamar-ul-Islam, alias Teddi, and Asif, alias Abdullah, in the present case as the police showed them as absconders and the case against them was kept on dormant file.

On Tuesday, the ATC-XIII judge, who conducted trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his verdict reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

According to the prosecution, two unknown men opened fire on 55-year-old brother Abdul Majid, alias Maulana, and his 45-year-old friend Muhammad Rashid, alias Lal Khan, on July 17, 2017 and escaped.

It further mentioned that Majid died on the spot while Rashid succumbed to his wounds during treatment at the Dr Ziauddin Hospital the next day.

London-based leaders were declared absconders in the double murder case

The prosecution said that Rangers later apprehended Mohammed Danish and Mohammed Raheem on July 26, 2017 for allegedly killing the rival PSP activists.

The Rangers’ special prosecutor, Jawad Awan, argued that both the detained men were affiliated with the MQM-L, adding that one 9mm pistol each was seized from their possession and the weapons had matched with the bullet casings found on the site of the double murder of the PSP workers.

However, their three other suspects pillion riding a motorcycle, who were taking both the men to execute another killing, fled, he added.

He said the investigating officer, Inspector Jameel Ahmed Awan, in the investigation report, filed under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, had charge-sheeted both the detained men and their eight alleged absconding accomplices, including the MQM’s London-based leaders.

The investigation report mentioned that both the accused, who were arrested in a case pertaining to possessing illicit weapons, had confessed to the killing of the PSP activists before a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. They were also rightly picked out during an identification parade by eyewitnesses, it added.

It maintained that the MQM founder through the ‘South Africa network’ of the party comprising Qamar, alias Teddy, Abdul Rashid, alias Babu Bihari, and Asif, alias Abdullah, directed both the accused to carry out the crime and also transferred Rs50,000 to the account of one accused.

It contended in the investigation report that the MQM founder had also congratulated via WhatsApp both the “hitmen” for doing “such a beautiful programme”.

In the report, the IO had shown the MOM founder, MQM-L convener Nusrat Nadeem, Bilal Anees, alias Billa, Muhammad Rizwan, alias Hawan, Owais, Abdul Rasheed, alias Bahu Bali, Qamar-ul-Islam, alias Teddi, and Asif, alias Abdullah as absconders.

The accused recorded their statements, under Section 342 of the CrPC, denying the allegations contained in the prosecution’s story and claimed innocence.

In the final arguments, the defence counsel Muhammad Arif and Muhammad Irfan contended that the prosecution framed their clients in the present case with mala fide intention for ulterior motives and denied the allegations of the prosecution.

The counsel claimed that their clients were innocent and pleaded that they be acquitted of the “false and fabricated charges”.

Three separate cases under sections 302 (premeditated murder), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Section 23-I(A) of the Sindh Arms Act, 2013 were lodged on a complaint of Abdul Karim at the Orangi Town police station.

The judge also handed down seven-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs50,000 each on the accused for possessing unlicensed weapons. However, all the sentences would run concurrently.

Two coaches remanded

A local court on Monday remanded two coaches of a private school in police custody in a case pertaining to the death of a sixth grade student allegedly after drowning in the swimming pool.

Police booked Ainee Shehzad, the principal; Mumtaz Akbar, the head swimming coach, and Saifullah, an assistant swimming coach of the Habib Public School over their alleged negligence that resulted in the death of 11-year-old Usman Durrani on Aug 27.

The investigating officer produced both the detained coaches before a judicial magistrate (West) concerned to seek their physical remand in police custody.

The IO said the investigation into the incident was still under way and sought physical custody of the suspects to complete the investigation and other legal formalities.

Allowing the request, the judge remanded them in police custody for two days with the direction to the IO to produce them on the next date of hearing with an investigation report.

The school’s principal, Ainee Shehzad, had obtained a pre-arrest bail.

According to the contents of the FIR, the victim’s father, Zeeshan Ahmed Durrani, alleged that his son had died after drowning in the swimming pool of the school allegedly owing to a lack of safety on the part of the school’s principal and the coaches.

A case under sections 322 (manslaughter) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code was lodged on the complaint of the victim’s father, Zeeshan Ahmed Durrani, within the remit of the Docks police station.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2019