Peshawar ATC declares man’s arrest over 2017 terror attack illegal

Published May 19, 2024
Security personnel take position outside Peshawar’s Agricultural Training Institute after a terror attack in 2017. — AFP/File
Security personnel take position outside Peshawar’s Agricultural Training Institute after a terror attack in 2017. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court here has declared illegal the arrest of a suspect in the 2017 terrorist attack on the Agriculture Training Institute Peshawar and directed the relevant officers of the counter-terrorism department to be careful in the future.

Judge Syed Asghar Ali Shah declared that the CTD should release Hamaduddin forthwith if he’s not required in any other case.

The court took notice of the matter after CTD officials produced Hamaduddin seeking his 30-day physical custody, claiming that he was involved in the 2017 ATI terrorist attack, which left nine people killed and several injured.

The judge ruled that there was no evidence on record, so much so that no one had ever named the suspect by chance, doubting his involvement in the attack.

Asks CTD officials to be careful in future

He ordered that copies of the order be forwarded to the interior secretary, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa home secretary, inspector general of police, additional inspector general (AIG) of the CTD, and provincial director general (prosecution) for information and considering the court’s observations made in the order.

The court declared that a number of accused were implicated during the investigation leading to their trial.

It added that the accused were acquitted by the ATC on May 29, 2019, whereas those at large were declared proclaimed offenders.

The court observed that another accused, Shadman, was arrested later on, but he was discharged from the case on September 15, 2019, on the recommendations of the prosecution.

“Now, after five years, the accused is arrested and produced with the request of police custody. It was on account of this background of the case that investigation officer inspector Khalilur Rehman was questioned about how the accused was arrested when there was no reference to his involvement, even by chance, on record of the case,” it observed.

The court pointed out that the investigation officer “admitted the past position of the case but took refuge under a nomination memo” of the accused prepared by the inspector in charge of the CTD interrogation team, Aslam Khan, on May 1, 2024, which was seconded by the DSP and SP of the CTD Peshawar region.

“Contents of the accused nomination memo are not only strange but also amount to disgrace of a citizen of the country who has been termed terrorist without any source of confirmation of the alleged oral information as explained by inspector Aslam Khan when summoned to disclose the background of contents written in the nomination memo of the accused,” it observed.

The court declared that, despite repeated queries, inspector Aslam Khan failed to make reference to any written or oral evidence of his nomination to justify his allegation.

“It is in the notice of this court that in a number of cases, citizens are arrested without any incriminating evidence on record of the case of their involvement,” the judge observed, adding that the practice on part of the CTD police was a sheer abuse of power.

He added that it was noted with concern that despite the discharge of the accused by the court in similar cases in the past, no visible change in the mindset and actions of CTD police was noticed.

“This court considers such an approach on part of the CTD police not in favour of the national interest. It rather damages not only the prestige of the CTD police but also shatters the confidence of the public in the system of the nation, including the judiciary,” he observed.

The court observed that state organisations were meant to enhance public welfare and the trust of the public in state institutions.

It added that if the work of those organisations went against such objectives, then the time had come to “reconsider their performance.”

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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