Rao Anwar, others walk free in landmark Naqeebullah murder case

F.P. Report

KARACHI:  An anti-terrorism court on Monday acquitted Malir’s former senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rao Anwar and his around two dozen subordinates in the high-profile Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case five years after the gruesome killing.

On Jan 13, 2018, Mehsud, an aspiring model, was murdered in controversial circumstances which led to outpouring of condemnations on social media and countrywide protests by civil society against Rao Anwar and his team.

Earlier, as many as 60 witnesses including five eyewitnesses Muhammad Qasim, Hazrat Ali, Sharoob Khan, Humayun and Afsar Khan recorded their testimonies during the prolonged trial. However, Rao and others, accused in the case on March 25, 2019, claimed their innocence and denied the charges.

Concluding arguments

The complainant s counsel, Advocate Sallahuddin Panhwar, stated in his closing arguments that the case involved three episodes, the abduction of Naqeeb, his illegal detention and later, the extrajudicial killing. He said Naqeeb and his friends Hazrat Ali and Qasim were captured in Gulsher Agha Hotel on Abul Hassan Isphani Road on Jan 3, 2018. He added that Anwar and other accused demanded Rs1 million ransom for the release, adding that Ali and Qasim were released from illegal detention on Jan 6 while Naqeeb was handed over to the Shah Latif Town police.

Mr Panhwar added that on Jan 13, Naqeeb and three others were shot dead in a staged encounter in Usman Khaskheli Goth by the accused police officers who labelled the victim terrorist. He said, “geofencing, a technical analysis of call data records and circumstantial evidence suggested the involvement of Rao Anwar in the extrajudicial killings.”

“Anwar in his statement recorded under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) also admitted that he had knowledge of the matter and also led a convoy to the crime scene after being contacted by the Shah Latif Town SHO,” the counsel added. He argued that the former SSP backed the kidnapping for ransom and murder of the victim. He pleaded with the court to punish the accused police officers according to the law.

On the other hand, defence lawyers Abid Zaman and Aamir Mansoob argued that there were differences in the statements of the witnesses and requested the judge to acquit their clients.

According to the prosecution, the call data record showed Rao Anwar’s presence at the crime scene and near the New Sabzi Mandi on the Super Highway on Jan 4, 5, 8, 9 and 13. However, Rao Anwar, in his statement, had denied the allegations of being involved in the extrajudicial killings and affirmed that he was not present at the place of the occurrence at the time of the incident, nor did he ever visit the new Sabzi Mandi between Jan 4 and 6, 2018.

He claimed that he was implicated in the case based on “managed geo-fencing and call data record” at the behest of a senior police officer he had a professional rivalry with. The former SSP, eluding law enforcers for two months, had surrendered before the Supreme Court and was subsequently taken into custody. He was shifted to a house-turned-sub jail in the Malir Cantonment area instead of being kept in the central jail and finally released on bail in July 2018.

Courtesy: (Dunya News)