Prosecution witness retracts statement against Rao Anwar in Naqeeb murder case

Updated 30 Oct 2020

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A sessions’ court on Thursday granted post-arrest bail to three suspects detained for allegedly abducting a teenage Christian girl, Arzoo, who is said to have converted to Islam. 
— Creative commons/File
A sessions’ court on Thursday granted post-arrest bail to three suspects detained for allegedly abducting a teenage Christian girl, Arzoo, who is said to have converted to Islam. — Creative commons/File

KARACHI: A prosecution witness on Thursday retracted his statement against former SSP Malir Rao Anwar in a case pertaining to murder of an aspiring Waziristan model, Naqeebullah, and three others in a ‘staged’ encounter case.

Rao Anwar, along with his around two dozen subordinates, has been charged with killing Naqeeb and three others after dubbing them ‘Taliban militants’ in a ‘fake’ shoot-out on Jan 13, 2018.

On Thursday, the matter came up before the ATC-III judge, when the state prosecutor produced a witness.

The witness, who is also a police officer, deposed that a joint investigation team which investigated the extrajudicial killings had arrived at the Malir Cantonment police station on March 31 where he was a duty officer then.

He added that the JIT members told him that Anwar was summoned to the police station for questioning, adding that the JIT team members and the accused stayed in the police station for around two hours conducting their proceedings.

The witness further deposed that he did not visit the crime scene along with the JIT.

Three granted bail in Christian girl’s abduction case

However, the state prosecutor contended that the witness was retracting his previous statement which he had recorded before the investigation team. The witness said that he stated the truth under oath.

Judge expresses annoyance

Meanwhile, the ATC judge expressed annoyance over the absence of the investigation officer of the case, SSP Abid Qaimkhani, and other witnesses from hearing.

The court directed the focal person of the case to ensure their presence on Nov 11.

In July, two key prosecution witnesses, Sub-inspector Rana Asif and Head Constable Shahzada Jahangir, in their 161 CrPC statements recorded by the IO of the case, had also retracted their statements.

Rana Asif had initially told the police that he saw Naqeeb with three other youngsters kept at the Abbas Town police post by its officer-in-charge Akbar Mallah and other policemen.

Jahangir, said to be a close aide to then Shah Latif Town SHO Amanullah Marwat, had initially told the police that he had witnessed the staged encounter as Marwat, then SHO of Sohrab Goth, Shoaib Shaikh, alias Shooter, and other policemen had killed Naqeeb and other captives in the presence of Rao Anwar.

However, while recording their testimonies before the trial court both the witnesses had disowned their 161 CrPC statements and said that they had not witnessed the shoot-out or the detention of the captives.

Former SSP Rao Anwar, former DSP Qamar Ahmed and three former police officials — Mohammad Yaseen, Supurd Hussain and Khizar Hayat — are on bail.

Thirteen others are in jail.

Seven, including former SHO Amanullah Marwat, former SHO Shaikh Mohammad Shoaib, Gada Hussain, Mohsin Abbas, Sadaqat Hussain Shah, Rana Shamim and Riaz, have been declared proclaimed offenders and warrants have been out for their arrest.

According to the prosecution, Naqeebullah Mehsud along with three other captives Sabir, Nazar Jan and Ishaq was killed in a fake encounter and were dubbed as Taliban militants by the team of former SSP Anwar.

However, an investigation did not find any evidence of Naqeeb’s involvement in any terrorist activity, but observed that Naqeebullah’s social media profile portrayed him as a liberal young man aspiring to be a model.

Three granted bail in girl’s abduction case

A sessions’ court on Thursday granted post-arrest bail to three suspects detained for allegedly abducting a teenage Christian girl, Arzoo, who is said to have converted to Islam.

Read: Family narrates ordeal of ‘missing’ teenage daughter

Police claimed to have booked her husband Syed Ali Azhar and detained his two brothers — Syed Shariq Ali and Syed Mohsin Ali — along with his friend Danish over their alleged involvement in the abduction of 13-year-old Arzoo on Oct 13. All the three men are said to be police officials.

The incident of alleged abduction of Arzoo has sparked protests from human rights groups against her purported forced conversion and underage marriage with a Muslim man.

On Thursday, three detained suspects moved applications before additional district and sessions’ judge (South) Faiza Khalil seeking grant of post-arrest bail to them.

Their defence counsel Hidayat Ali Leghari contended that an application was filed with the judicial magistrate concerned for recording statement of the girl Arzoo under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). However, the same could not be done.

He further contended that later the girl purportedly recorded her statement before the Sindh High Court, wherein she stated that she had embraced Islam out of her free choice and had solemnised free-will marriage with Syed Azhar Ali without any fear or pressure.

The counsel informed that in view of the purported statement of the girl the SHC had purportedly restrained the police from arresting her husband Syed Azhar Ali and his family members. Therefore, he asked the court to grant post-arrest bail to applicants Syed Shariq Ali, Syed Mohsin Ali, who are brothers of Syed Ali Azhar, and Danish, who are all policemen.

After hearing arguments from the state prosecutor and the defence counsel, the judge granted post-arrest bail to applicants Syed Shariq Ali, Syed Mohsin Ali and Danish, who is said to be posted at the Frere police station against a surety of Rs50,000 each. The court directed the applicants to cooperate with the police during the investigation of the case.

The counsel for the complainant was reportedly called absent during the hearing on the bail application.

According to the contents of the FIR, complainant Raja said that he was doing private job. He stated that on Oct 13, he and his wife went to work while their son Shahbaz went to school. The complainant further stated that his three daughters — Sonia, Mehwish and Arzoo — were present at home in the Railway Colony, when he received a call from a relative Jameel, who told that his daughter Arzoo was missing from the house.

Raja said he reached home and contacted the neighbours, but could not trace his daughter.

Therefore, he lodged a case regarding abduction of his daughter against unknown persons at the Frere police station.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020