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Pakistan Sindh

Rao Anwar and others got clean chit in Naqeebulla Murder case

Rao Anwar and others got clean chit in Naqeebulla Murder case

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

Mehsud, an aspiring model, was killed on January 13, 2018, in contentious circumstances, sparking a social media backlash and nationwide demonstrations by civil society against Rao Anwar and his crew.

In the lengthy trial, there were up to 60 witnesses, including five eyewitnesses: Muhammad Qasim, Hazrat Ali, Sharoob Khan, Humayun, and Afsar Khan. Rao and the other defendants in the case who were charged on March 25 asserted their innocence and refuted the allegations.

In his final remarks, the complainant’s attorney, Advocate Sallahuddin Panhwar, said that the case encompassed three episodes: the kidnapping of Naqeeb, his unauthorised imprisonment, and later, the extrajudicial killing. He said that on January 3, 2018, Hazrat Ali, Qasim, and Naqeeb were apprehended in the Gulsher Agha Hotel on Abul Hassan Isphani Road. Ali and Qasim were released from unlawful imprisonment on January 6 while Naqeeb was turned over to the Shah Latif Town police, he said, adding that Anwar and other accused parties requested a Rs. 1 million ransom for the release.

A staged encounter in Usman Khaskheli Goth on January 13 resulted in the shooting deaths of Naqeeb and three other people, according to Mr. Panhwar. The implicated police personnel had dubbed the victim a terrorist. “Geofencing, a technical study of call data records, and circumstantial evidence suggested Rao Anwar’s involvement in the unlawful killings,” the speaker stated.

The attorney said, “Anwar also stated that he had knowledge of the case in his statement recorded under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and also led a convoy to the crime scene after being contacted by the Shah Latif Town SHO. He said that the former SSP had supported the victim’s murder and kidnapped for ransom. He begged the judge to sentence the accused police officers to the appropriate legal penalties.

Abid Zaman and Aamir Mansoob, the defence attorneys, on the other hand, maintained that there were discrepancies in the witness accounts and asked the judge to exonerate their clients.

The prosecution claims that Rao Anwar was present at the crime scene and close to the New Sabzi Mandi on the Super Highway on January 4, 5, 8, 9, and 13 as evidenced by the call data record. Rao Anwar, however, had refuted the claims that he had participated in the extrajudicial executions in his statement. He also stated that he had never visited the new Sabzi Mandi between January 4 and January 6, 2018, and that he had not been present when the incident occurred.

According to him, a senior police officer with whom he had a professional rivalry ordered “controlled geo-fencing and call data record” to accuse him in the case. After escaping law enforcement for two months, the former SSP was apprehended by the Supreme Court after turning himself in. 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.