KARACHI: An antiterrorism court has acquitted chief of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee Uzair Baloch and three others in a 12-year-old case pertaining to rioting and an assault on police.

The ATC-VI judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against Uzair Baloch; Zakir, alias Dada; Ghulam Muhammad, alias Ghulamo; and Salam, alias Mullah Nisar.

The judge acquitted them due to lack of evidence against them.

The judge pointed out that alleged perpetrator Abdul Ghaffar, alias Mama, had already been released in this case.

The court highlighted lacunas in the prosecution case and posed a question as to why the accused, Uzair, who was arrested in 2016, was formally apprehended in this case six years later.

“The cropped-up point that needs the attention of this court is that when the instant crime took place on April 13, 2012, and the accused was in custody since 2016, why he was not nabbed in this crime earlier and how after about six years he was formally arrested in the instant crime. No answer on this point has been advanced by Inspector Muhammad Rafique [second IO],” the judge observed.

He directed prison authorities to release them forthwith if their custody was not required in any other case.

It needs to be mentioned here that the Lyari kingpin, Uzair Baloch, who is facing other criminal cases pending before ATC and sessions courts, is unlikely to be released immediately.

According to the prosecution, a police officer from Kalakot police station, while on patrol in April 2012, responded to a tip-off that a group of individuals around 200 to 300 in Lyari, near Aath Chowk, were pelting stones at vehicles and blocking the road.

Upon arrival at the scene, the informant briefed the police officer that the alleged Lyari gangster, Uzair, along with the co-accused, was present with deadly weapons, including hand grenades.

Upon seeing the police, the accused opened fire and used hand grenades on the police party, causing damage to their armoured personnel carrier. Subsequently, additional law enforcement personnel arrived at the scene, but the accused managed to flee.

A case was registered under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 324 (attempted murder), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 3/4 of the Explosive Substance Act read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The alleged gangster is facing trial in dozens of cases pertaining to murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, extortion, and encounters with law enforcers.

So far, he has been acquitted in more than two dozen cases mainly due to lack of evidence or due to the benefit of the doubt.

In April 2020, a military court sentenced Uzair to 12 years in jail in an espionage case.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2024

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