KARACHI: A prosecution witness on Wednesday informed an antiterrorism court that last night he was taken into custody by Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials who directed him to make a false statement in court against two Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) men or they would frame him in a case.
Accused Mohammad Bin Shahzad and Rehan have been charged with allegedly collecting funds for the banned JeM in July last year at a mosque/madressah in Surjani Town.
When the case came up for hearing before the ATC-XII, the prosecution produced witness Mohammad Khawar in court to record his statement.
The witness deposed that he was the administrator of that madressah, where around 50 students were studying. The mosque/madressah was operated under the Al-Rehman Trust and the government took it over later.
During cross-examination, the witness said he never stated the accused persons were affiliated with the banned organisation.
The court censures DC West and SBCA for illegal construction of seminary on govt land
He further conceded, “It is correct to suggest that I am in fear from IO [investigating officer of the case] of this case, if [I] will not depose according to his wish, I will be involved in false case. It is correct to suggest that I was arrested by IO last night and kept at CTD Centre near Sheraton Hotel.”
The witness further said that in January his statement under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code was recorded by the IO at the CTD Civil Lines and he did not name any person in his statement.
“It is correct to suggest that on 07.03.2020, I was taken away by police officials, who kept me under their custody till 08.03.2020 and told me that if I will not make statement according to their wish then they will involve me in the case,” he testified.
The witness voluntarily said during his cross-examination that both the accused were innocent persons and they were not members of Al-Rehmat Trust or Jaish-i-Mohammad.
The witness also admitted that a case was also lodged against him in the past for allegedly collecting funds and being member of the Al-Rehmat Trust but later he was acquitted.
The CTD had booked both the accused with their alleged absconding accomplice Bashir under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. It alleged that they were looking after the affairs of the mosque and madressah and collecting funds for the banned JeM.
Mosque, seminary built on govt land
Earlier, during proceedings it came on record that the mosque/madressah was built on an amenity plot meant for a park in Maymarabad, Surjani Town.
The ATC judge had berated the deputy commissioner (West) for not checking the legal status of the mosque/madressah before taking it over in government custody since it was constructed on land which was still the property of the Karachi Development Authority and not yet demarcated/allotted.
The ATC had also expressed resentment over the Sindh Building Control Authority for allowing construction on the government land and sought reports.
The IO, Inspector Tariq Qayyum of CTD, said in the charge sheet that the mosque and madressah were built on an amenity plot meant for a park in Maymarabad, Surjani Town.
The court questioned how the mosque/madressah was built without the permission of the SBCA and all other utilities were provided to the illegally built madressah, adding that the government also appointed an administrator on such a property and also paid salaries to the staff deputed at the mosque/madressah.
Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2020