Army hands back Uzair Baloch to jail officials after three years

Updated 07 Apr 2020

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The Lyari gangster was handed over to military officials in April 2017 for trial on espionage charge. — Hussain Afzal/File
The Lyari gangster was handed over to military officials in April 2017 for trial on espionage charge. — Hussain Afzal/File

KARACHI: Prison authorities on Monday produced before an antiterrorism court Uzair Jan Baloch, the chief of outlawed Peoples Amn Committee, after the Army’s Corps V handed him to them after a period of three years.

The alleged Lyari gangster is nominated in nearly 62 criminal cases pending before different ATCs, which have repeatedly been issuing his production orders because of delays in trials due to his non-production by the jail authorities.

In April 2017, the army had announced that it had taken Uzair into its custody on charges of “espionage” and “leak of sensitive security information to foreign intelligence agencies”.

Prison authorities had told an ATC in June 2018 that Uzair was handed over to the army on April 11, 2017 in the presence of the civil judge and judicial magistrate-XI (South) for investigation in an explosives and arms case.

On Monday, the prison officials produced Uzair before the judge of the ATC-XVII conducting trial in the Arshad Pappu murder case against him.

The Lyari gangster was handed over to military officials in April 2017 for trial on espionage charge

The judge fixed the matter for framing of charges against Uzair for April 22 and directed the investigating officer to produce him on the next date.

Special Public Prosecutor Sajid Mehboob Shaikh told Dawn that Uzair could not be indicted in the present case before since his custody was handed over to army authorities.

Seven co-accused — Zakir Baloch, Zubair Baloch, Javed Baloch, Mohammad Yousaf, Chand Khan Niazi, Abdul Rehman, Shahjahan Baloch and Akram Baloch — had already been indicted in the present case, the prosecutor added.

According to the prosecution, Arshad Pappu with his brother, confidant and 10-year-old son had gone to attend the party of a friend in Defence Housing Authority on the night of March 16, 2013. The boy came home around midnight and informed his mother that around 20 men in two vehicles came to the flat in the DHA and took away his father and the two others.

A case was registered under relevant sections of the law at the Kalakot police station on a directive of the Supreme Court.

Arshad Pappu was booked in around 60 cases, but he was never convicted in any case since most of the key witnesses either did not turn up to testify against him or turned hostile before the courts. He was released in the middle of February 2012 from a prison in Balochistan following his acquittal in what appeared to be the last case against him pertaining to the murder of Faiz Mohammad aka Mama Faizu, a transporter and father of Uzair Baloch.

Building owner’s bail plea dismissed

A sessions court on Monday dismissed the bail application of the owner of a multistorey building that collapsed in Gulbahar recently and caused the death of 27 persons.

The five-storey residential building collapsed resulting in the death of 27 people and injuries to some 18 others on March 5.

Police arrested the fleeing owner of the building, Mohammad Javed, for allegedly illegally constructing the building in connivance with three officers of the Sindh Building Control Authority.

On Monday, the suspect moved an application before Additional District and Sessions’ Judge (Central) Liaquat Ali Khoso seeking grant of post-arrest bail.

In the application, the defence counsel argued that Javed himself was residing in the same building and also got injured in the unfortunate incident with another family member.

The counsel added that his client was a blind person and was behind bars since his arrest in mid-March.

He added that he was entitled to legal concessions being a disabled person, thus he may be granted post-arrest bail and ordered to be released.

However, the investigating officer, Inspector Ibadat Ali Shah, informed the court that the suspect was partially blind and was not eligible for bail.

Advocate Nazirullah Mehsood for the affected families opposed the bail plea contending that Javed himself ‘confessed’ to have bribed the SBCA officials against illegal construction of each upper floor of the ill-fated building despite the fact that only ground-plus-one construction was legally permitted in the locality.

He further contended that the collapse of the illegal structures resulted in death of 27 persons besides causing injuries to several others, thus his direct role in the incident had been established.

The counsel said that the applicant being the prime suspect could not be granted bail at the present stage of the case since the statements of not a single prosecution witness had been recorded at the pre-trial stage. Therefore, he pleaded to the court to dismiss the bail plea.

The state prosecutor also opposed the bail.

After hearing arguments from the parties, the judge dismissed the bail application.

Meanwhile, the court confirmed pre-arrest bail of SBCA official Mohammad Imran Shaikh, who was allegedly absconding in the same building collapse case.

Four SBCA officials — Mohammad Imran Shaikh, Sarfaraz Jamali, Maqsood Qureshi and Irfan Ali — are currently on bail after the police booked them in the present case.

According to the prosecution, the building was owned by Javed, who himself was engaged in the business of construction and he had constructed the building in question on plot Number 1/95 in Gulbahar-2 area.

The police nominated the owner as well as the SBCA officials posted in the area in the case.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020