The brother of Nazim Jokhio, who was allegedly murdered at a PPP lawmaker's farmhouse for resisting houbara bustard hunting by the legislator's Arab guests earlier this month, requested a judicial magistrate in Karachi on Thursday that the name of the lawmaker's elder brother, PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim, be removed from the first information report (FIR) of the murder case.
However, the victim's widow and mother later told media that Nazim's brother Afzal, who is also the complainant in the case, had made the statement under duress and out of fear of being blackmailed.
Nazim was found tortured to death at the farmhouse of PPP MPA Jam Awais on November 3. The victim’s family accuses the MPA, his brother Karim and Awais's henchmen of torturing him to death in Nazim’s Achar Salaar village in Malir district.
While Awais, the prime suspect, has been remanded in police custody following his surrender to law enforcers, Karim, who was booked in the case at a later stage, has not been arrested yet. According to a Dawn report, he has reportedly obtained bail before arrest.
Afzal, however, cleared him of involvement in Nazim's alleged murder while recording his statement before the judicial magistrate (Malir) under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The statement was recorded after Afzal's counsel requested the judicial magistrate for the same.
In his statement, Afzal deposed before the magistrate that he and Nazim had flagged down a vehicle in Achar Salar Goth on November 2 and after pulling over, individuals travelling in the vehicle had asked them who they were.
Nazim told them that hunting was prohibited in the area, at which the people in the vehicle told him they were the sardar's (chieftain Awais's) men, Afzal said, adding that the latter then slapped his brother. Nazim recorded their video, at which they slapped him again and his mobile fell down, he said. Undeterred, Nazim again told the men in the vehicle that hunting was not allowed in the area, but they ignored him and left, according to Afzal.
He told the court that he and his brother met the elders of their tribe later that day at around 4pm or 5pm.
"During this time, Nazim also called Madadgar-15, while Jamal, a suspect in the case, called me the same day and asked me to delete the video that Nazim had recorded," the complainant said. "Jamal then gave the phone to Niaz, another suspect, who asked me to talk to Awais."
Afzal said Awais used abusive language on the phone and told him to bring Nazim to him (Awais). "I tried to persuade my brother [to visit Awais] but he refused."
However, he added, later he and Nazim went to Jam House — Awais's farmhouse in Karachi's Malir area — from where Nazim sent a voice message to his lawyer, Mazhar Junejo.
"During this time, he (Mazhar) had uploaded the video [recorded by Nazim] on social media, which had gone viral.”
Later, three of Awais's henchmen, Dodo Salar alias Dada, Soomar Salar and Niaz Salar, took away Nazim in a vehicle and slapped him as well, according to Afzal.
He said he and Nazim went to Jam House again with the three men and when they reached the farmhouse, Karim came out from one of the rooms and asked who was the "badmash" (ruffian) among them. At this, he said, Nazim pointed to himself, and they took him away and beat him.
The complainant said Karim had asked Nazim to apologise to their Arab guest but the former refused, saying the Arabs should apologise to him instead.
Later, he added, Karim deleted the video from Nazim's mobile phone and "asked me to leave for my village, saying Nazim was to stay at the farmhouse".
"He told me to return to my village and come back with the elders [of my tribe] the next day."
While Nazim opposed this, Karim insisted that Afzal followed his instructions, the complaint told the magistrate.
He said Karim handed him his brother's mobile phone at 3am and asked him to leave.
"Meanwhile, my brother was taken to the guards' room and one of the guards, Zahid, who was standing outside the room, asked me to give him the mobile phone. He said Awais needed it," Afzal said. "I gave the phone to Zahid and Niaz dropped me at my house."
He recalled that Nazim had asked him to "bring Rabia in the morning" as well.
Afzal said one of Awais's men, Saleem Salar, called him at around 10am the next morning and took him and his maternal uncle, Dur Muhammad, to Jam House. He added that Haji Muhammad Ishaq Jokhio, Haji Muhammad Khan, Meraj Jokhio, Abdul Razzaq Salar and Niaz Salar were also present there.
“Meraj informed me that my brother has passed away, following which we left the farmhouse and I posted on social media that Awais had killed my brother," he continued.
But, he said, Karim had taken an oath and given him an undertaking that he had nothing to do with Nazim's murder. He added that Awais and others booked in the case, however, were involved in the murder.
Saying so, he requested that Karim's name be removed from the FIR.
During the hearing on Thursday, Afzal also withdrew an application he had filed earlier for the transfer of the case to the administrative judge of the anti-terrorism courts.
The application — moved on behalf of Afzal by his counsel Advocate Shah Muhammad Zaman Junejo on Nov 16 — said MNA Karim and MPA Awais alias Gohram Khan Bijar Jokhio, being the sardars of the Jokhio tribe, were influential persons.
The application alleged that they killed Nazim and stated that their motive behind the murder was to restrain and teach a lesson to members of the Jokhio tribe and other communities in Malir so that they did not raise their voice against any unlawful acts committed by the suspects and their guests in their constituencies. It added that the PPP lawmakers wanted to set an example of what would be the consequences of raising a voice against them — brutal murder as that of Nazim.
“The act of murdering the deceased was committed in a barbaric and gruesome manner creating fear, terror, insecurity and anguish in the minds of a section of the public, particularly the entire community of the district Malir and Jokhio tribe,” it read.
It was argued in the application that the case attracted Section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
'Statement given under pressure'
Later in the day, Nazim's widow, Shirin Jokhio, and his mother dissociated themselves from Afzal's statement in favour of MNA Karim and said he gave the statement "under pressure [and out of] fear of being blackmailed".
Speaking to the media in Salar Jokhio village on the outskirts of Karachi, Shirin said that it was, in fact, Karim who had called Nazim to Jam House and Afzal had told her that the PPP MNA had got the victim locked up in a room at the farmhouse on Nov 2.
She maintained that Karim was involved in her husband's murder and pleaded with authorities for justice.
Shirin said her life was also under threat but vowed to fight the case in case Afzal decided not to pursue it.
Also speaking on the occasion, Nazim's mother said: "I will not pardon anyone."
She said she was not aware whether Afzal had entered into any compromise with Karim and demanded that the killers of Nazim be hanged. She also demanded Karim's arrest.
Meanwhile, one of Afzal's lawyers, Mohammed Khan Sheikh, who was voluntarily supporting the family, told reporters after Afzal's statement in court that he would no longer plead the case.
The lawyer said Afzal had neither consulted him nor taken him into confidence before recording the statement.