Karachi: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi Monday acquitted former senior superintendent of police (SSP), Rao Anwar, and his team in the 2018 high-profile Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud killing case.
It took the court exactly five years to conclude the matter and reserve its verdict in the case on January 14.
Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud was murdered brutally on January 13, 2018. His murder triggered an outpouring of condemnations on social media and countrywide protests by civil society against Malir’s former senior superintendent of police (SSP), Rao Anwar, and his team.
Rao Anwar, along with his around two-dozen subordinates, were charged with the killing of Naqeeb and three others after dubbing them militants linked to the “Islamic State and Taliban” in a fake encounter.
On March 25, 2019, the court indicted Anwar and his 17 subordinates for the murder.
During the prolonged trial, as many as 60 witnesses, including five eyewitnesses recorded their testimonies.
In his concluding remarks, Advocate Sallahuddin Panhwar, the complainant’s counsel, stated that the case involved three episodes: the abduction of Naqeeb, his illegal detention, and later, the extrajudicial killing.
He said that Naqeeb, and his friends Hazrat Ali and Qasim, were abducted from Gulsher Agha Hotel on Abul Hassan Isphani Road on January 3, 2018.
He added that Anwar and other accused demanded Rs1 million ransom for his release, adding Ali and Qasim were released from illegal detention on January 6 while Naqeeb was handed over to the Shah Latif Town police.
Panhwar added that on January 13, Naqeeb and three others were shot dead in a staged encounter in Usman Khaskheli Goth by the accused police officers who dubbed the victims as terrorists.
He argued that the former SSP abetted the kidnapping for ransom and murder of the victim and later tried to cover up the unlawful acts by billing the victims as militants. 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 contended that there were discrepancies 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 January 4, 5, 8, 9, and 13.
However, Rao Anwar, in his statement, had denied the allegations of being involved in the extrajudicial killings and testified 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 January 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.
The former SSP 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.
More to follow…