MULTAN: An anti-terrorism court judge on Thursday acquitted Ghulam Rasool Chotu, the ringleader of Chotu gang, and his accomplices of murder, attempt on life, police encounter, kidnap for ransom, robbery and theft in two cases lodged against them in Dera Ghazi Khan and Muzaffargarh.

The judgment was pronounced by ATC No 12 (camped at New Central Jail) Judge Masood Arshad. Those who stood trial were acquitted of charges because of insufficient evidence by the prosecution against them. FIRs were lodged under sections 302/365, 353/186, 324/379 and 148/149 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to the FIR lodged with the Dera Ghazi Khan Saddar police, Chotu and his accomplices attacked a temporary check post of police and killed constables Naeem Haidar and Kashif Shahzad besides injuring constables Abdul Ghaffar, Rashid Minhas and Abdul Karim.

The accused fled after snatching the weapon from the police.

According to the FIR lodged in 2013 with the Bait Hazaar Khan Police Station, Chotu, Khalid, alias Khalidi, and Ishaq, alias Saqi, kidnapped Siddique for a Rs5million ransom.

In March 2019, another ATC sentenced Chotu and his 19 accomplices to death on 18 counts, besides slapping a Rs6.2m fine on them.

They were handed down the sentence under Section 302 of the PPC, read with Section 149 of the PPC, Section 7(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 and Section 3 of the Explosive Substance Act 1908.

Two minor convicts Qasim and Samad were handed down life terms on 19 counts each while each of the 22 convicts were asked to pay Rs6.2m fine. Also, Kabil, Hazara, Nawab, Meer Haji, Shehzada, Ameen, Khuda Bakhsh, Qasim, Habib, Sanaullah, Lala, Nadir, Nasarullah, Ghulam Bani, Dareehan, Mujeet, Sabar Din, Ahmed, Aslam, Matara, Saiva, Bashir, Abdullah, Haji Abdul Ghani, Rahib, Challo and Jan Muhammad have been declared proclaimed offenders.

Challans of the cases were submitted in 2016 and a total 56 witnesses had recorded their statements.

Nine cases were filed against Chotu gang in Rahim Yar Khan.

Police backed by military helicopters raided the gang’s hideouts in April 2016. Help from the army was sought after the police lost six personnel in an operation against the gang.

Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2020