KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Monday sentenced two men, said to be associated with the militant Islamic State group, to death in a case pertaining to the 2017 suicide blast at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan that killed around 70 people and wounded dozens of others.
The judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court-XVI found Nadir Ali and Furqan guilty of facilitating suicide bomber Barar Brohi who on Feb 16, 2017 blew himself up at the packed-to-capacity courtyard of the shrine of the Sufi saint.
The court handed them capital punishment on 70 counts (for killing of 70 victims, including women and children) and ordered to pay a collective fine of Rs14 million each (Rs200,000 for each killing) to the state.
It also ordered the convicts to pay a collective fine of Rs14m (Rs200,000 each), as compensation to the legal heirs of victims.
The judge also awarded 10-year imprisonment to each convict for wounding each of 65 people. They were ordered to pay a fine of Rs100,000 for causing injuries to each victim.
Additionally, the convicts were awarded a collective sentence of 24-years each for their involvement in the bomb blast and ordered to pay Rs100,000 fine each.
Nadir Ali was further given life imprisonment for possessing explosives in addition to seven-year imprisonment for possessing illicit weapon and Rs50,000 fine.
However, their death sentences are subject to confirmation by the Sindh High Court. Other sentences of imprisonment would run concurrently.
Seventy devotees were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up over three years ago at the Sehwan dargah
The case against five alleged absconding accomplices — Saifullah, Abdul Sattar, Aijaz Bangulzai, Zulqarnain Bangulzai and Tanveer — was kept on dormant file until their arrest or surrender.
The court ordered protection of two private witnesses, who voluntarily turned up to testify against the convicts, during the trial leading to their conviction.
Both the convicts, who were produced in court, were remanded to the Karachi central prison to serve out their sentence.
The prosecution recorded testimonies of 29 witnesses, including police officials, who deposed that minutes before the blast three men hugged the suicide bomber and congratulated him on the premises of the shrine before leaving.
In September 2019, the court had indicted the duo for facilitating one of the deadliest attacks targeting a shrine in the country. They pleaded not guilty and had opted to contest the case.
Earlier, in March 2019, the Hyderabad Counter-Terrorism Department had filed a supplementary charge sheet against Furqan, claiming that he and his other alleged accomplices were affiliated with IS.
The investigating officer, Sohail Ahmed Mirza, further mentioned that Furqan had recorded his confessional statement before a judicial magistrate and admitted that he with others had helped the suicide bomber.
The report added that the suspect, a resident of Quetta, and his accomplices had facilitated the attack on a directive of Mufti Hidayatullah, who was reportedly killed in Balochistan.
Nadir Ali alias Murshid, a resident of Kashmore, was arrested in November 2017 and had already been charge-sheeted in the present case.
A supplementary charge sheet said that three absconders were residents of Balochistan and two were from Punjab’s Rajanpur district.
It further said that as per the geofencing report, Furqan was in Sehwan on the day of the incident, adding that evidence was also collected from a guesthouse where he stayed during that period.
In his alleged confessional statement, he said that on the directive of Hidayatullah he came to Sehwan, stayed there for three days to carry out reconnaissance of the shrine, adding that he went back to Quetta and provided the information to Hidayatullah, who handed over a suicide jacket to Barar Brohi and Nadir Ali and sent them to Sehwan, it said.
The statement added that Hidayatullah had also sent Ghulam Mustafa alias Saeen, who was reportedly killed in a shootout in Mastung, Safiullah Mazari, Sattar Mazari, Maqbool, alias Zulqarnain, Ijaz Bangulzai and Tanveer to Sehwan to help the bomber.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2020