RAWALPINDI: Imtiaz Ali ‘Taji’ Khokhar, whose name was already on the fourth schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act, was arrested alongside 22 others in a raid on Wednesday night.

Mr Khokhar will be produced in court after a medical examination, while the most of the remaining suspects were sent to jail on judicial remand on Thursday.

The police had placed Mr Khokhar on the 20 most wanted and named him as a leader of the ‘333’ gang. A senior police official said that the 333 gang was involved in land grabbing, targeted killing and extortion. He alleged that most members had a criminal background. The official said the gang was led by Mr Khokhar, who has a political background, and used social media to promote itself.

Potohar Division Superintendent of Police (SP) Syed Ali said Mr Khokhar’s arrest came after the provincial government directed the police to crack down on criminal gangs operating in Rawalpindi.

He said that in response to information, the police arrested Mr Khokhar and 22 others and recovered a large quantity of illegal firearms. He said the suspects were charged with possessing unlicensed firearms and sent to jail.

One of the suspects, Nasir Mehmood, was produced before the court of the magistrate and remanded into police custody for four days. Mr Khokhar, who is being held amid tight security, will be produced before the court of magistrate after a medical examination, he said. Soon after Mr Khokhar’s arrest, he was shifted to hospital to undergo dialysis.

Mr Ali said that the police recovered one M4 rifle, one 222 rifle, one submachine gun, one pistol with 23 magazines and 665 live rounds of ammunition.

He added that Mr Khokhar and Mr Mehmood were arrested on an FIR registered against them on charges of land grabbing on a complaint by retired army official Ikhlas Khan.

He said City Police Officer Mohammad Ahsan Younas has directed the police to prepare a charge-sheet for the case with solid evidence so that the suspects can be brought to justice.

The Punjab government had already directed the Counter Terrorism Department and police to check Mr Khokhar’s assets to ascertain whether his assets and sources of income were legitimate and being spent on lawful objectives.

The provincial government has also directed the Rawalpindi police to hold Mr Khokhar’s passport when he leaves his residence and seek a surety bond from him.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019

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