DADU: A day before the Sindh inspector general of police (IGP) is supposed to appear in the Supreme Court to inform it of the progress of the infamous Mehar triple murder case, the police announced that they had managed to locate and arrest one of the two absconders in an extended and prolonged combing operation carried out in Dadu, Qambar-Shahdadkot and Kandhkot-Kashmore districts over the past several weeks.

The Supreme Court, on an application filed by Umme Rubab, daughter of one of the victims, Mukhtiar Chandio, had ordered police to apprehend and produce the two absconding accused, Murtaza and Zulfiqar, and submit a compliance report on November 27.

The case pertained to an armed attack by a group of Chandio tribesmen on the residence of Baldai UC chairman Raees Karamullah Chandio in Ahmed Colony of Mehar town in Dadu district on Jan 17, 2018. Raees Karamullah and his two sons, Mukhtiar and Qabil, were killed in the attack and in the retaliatory fire one of the attackers was shot dead.

The bereaved family, which politically belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party, believes that the attack was carried out at the behest of PPP MPA Nawab Sardar Khan Chandio — the chieftain of his tribe in Mehar — and his younger brother, Nawab Burhan Khan Chandio, the then aide to the Sindh chief minister. The two brothers, along with five other suspects had been nominated in the case.

Since both the sides happened to be affiliated with the PPP, the progress of investigation and pace of litigation in the case remained slow, which prompted Umme Rubab to move the high court and Supreme Court with plea to dispense early justice.

IGP, other respondents to appear in SC today

On Feb 4, 2020, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court had expressed its displeasure over failure of the police to locate and arrest the two absconders. It had given six weeks’ time to the police to arrest them. However, police could not accomplish the task.

A few weeks back, the SC issued orders to the Sindh IGP to appear before it on Nov 27 and apprise the court of the progress in the investigation of the case.

The IGP encamped himself in Dadu and headed a combing operation started by police personnel drawn from seven districts of Sindh. It was later assigned to the Hyderabad DIG but in several weeks of the massive drive across three districts, police on Thursday finally succeeded in tracing and arresting one of the two absconders, Zulfiqar, saying that he was caught while trying dodge police and slip into Punjab.

It was stated that Zulfiqar was arrested by the Kashmore police on an intelligence tip-off after a raid on a place, Dera Morr, along the Sindh-Punjab border.

The combing operation for the second absconder, Murtaza, was continuing in various parts of Khairpur Nathan Shah and Mehar talukas as well as the hilly areas and Kachho belt.

Dadu SSP Dr Farrukh Raza Malik is leading the police contingents in Shah Godrio, Faridabad and Mado areas of his district while Qambar-Shahdadkot SSP Imran Qureshi is supervising the search operation in Hamal Lake, Kuti Ji Qabar and mountain areas of his district.

Hyderabad DIG Sharjeel Kharal is heading the operations and has been frequently visiting the targeted areas.

Speaking with Dawn by phone, SSP Malik said proper coordination among police stations within the operation areas led to the arrest of Zulfiqar.

He said the other accused would also be traced soon as all routes leading to the mountainous and katcha areas of several districts had been tightly cordoned off.

DIG Kharal said the operation would continue till success.

In the FIR lodged by a member of the bereaved family, Pervaiz Chandio, five suspects — Ali Gohar, Sattar, Sikandar, Murtaza and Zulfiqar — were nominated by name, besides MPA Sardar Chandio and Nawab Burhan Chandio. The MPA and nawab have been at large on bail while Ali Gohar, Sattar and Sikandar are in judicial custody.

IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar along with DIG Kharal, SSP Malik, Hyderabad Commissioner Abbas Baloch and Dadu Deputy Commissioner Raja Shahzaman Khuhro, have reportedly left for Islamabad to appear in the Supreme Court on Friday.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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