KARACHI: The death of a young man from South Waziristan in an alleged ‘police encounter’ has sparked immense rage on social media.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Thursday directed Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal to conduct an inquiry into the controversial killing of Naqeebullah, a 27-year-old hailing from South Waziristan, on January 13.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) January 18, 2018
Later in the day, the home minister ordered the deputy inspector general South to personally conduct a “clear and unbiased” inquiry into the matter and submit a detailed report to the ministry.
Earlier talking to media, Malir Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rao Anwar claimed to have shot dead four suspected terrorists, including Naqeebullah, allegedly affiliated with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in a police encounter on the outskirts of the metropolis last week. However, acquaintances and relatives of the deceased have disputed this claim and are calling it an extrajudicial murder.
Anwar had alleged that the slain suspects were involved in several high-profile terror cases and had ties with LeJ and the militant Islamic State (IS). However, Naqeebullah had not been specifically named.
In contradiction, a relative of Naqeebullah, whose national identity card bears the name Naseemullah, claimed that the deceased was, in fact, a shop owner fond of modelling.
The relative, maintaining anonymity, said that Naqeebullah was allegedly taken away by men in plainclothes from his clothing shop in Sohrab Goth earlier this month. He said the deceased had previously worked at a petrol pump at Hub Chowki in Balochistan and “had no association with any militant outfit”.
The relative provided several photos of Naqeebullah to demonstrate his claim that the deceased was fond of modelling. A Facebook page by the name Naqib Maseed and a second name, ‘Veer‘, in parentheses is said to be Naqeebullah’s personal profile and contains several public photos that appear to have been taken for a modelling photo shoot.
Naqeebullah, who referred to himself as Veer also made a Facebook page by the name, Naqib Maseed Official Veer Sahab and had shared this on his Facebook timeline as well.
According to the relative, the family had approached the Chhipa Welfare Association on Wednesday, where they were handed over Naqeebullah’s body.
POLICE INSIST DECEASED WAS A TERRORIST:
On the other hand, SSP Anwar maintained that Naqeebulah was involved in major acts of terrorism and was residing in an apartment on Abul Hassan Ispahani Road. In an effort to support his claims, the SSP had supposedly also issued a document detailing Naqeebulah’s path to militancy.
According to the police officer, Naqeebulah was born on January 1, 1991, in a village of South Waziristan’s Makeen tehsil. He allegedly received religious education from a madrassa.
He was reported to be a brother-in-law of Sher Dawood, a commander of the TTP, who motivated him to join the banned outfit and allegedly received weapons training in 2007/2008 at a TTP camp in Miranshah.
Naqeebulah was also associated with TTP commander Sanaullah Mehsud, claimed SSP Anwar.
After a military operation was launched in the area in 2007, the deceased, along with an accomplice, killed a Frontier Constabulary (FC) Subedar Muhammad Alam because they suspected him to be an ‘informer’ against TTP militants.
Naqeebullah, along with his brother-in-law and others, allegedly also carried out an attack on a military convoy in Makeen in which several soldiers were martyred.
SSP Anwar also added that “He was a close aide of a TTP commander, Wahab, who was involved in the bombing at Karsaz during slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto’s rally on October 18, 2007.”
However, there was no other confirmation of these allegations levelled by the SSP and his claims could not be independently verified immediately.
OUTRAGE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
Following the news of Naqeebullah’s death, a large number of people posted condolence messages on his Facebook timeline, with some including photos of his body in a coffin.
On Facebook group Halaat Updates, where Karachiites discuss everything from electricity outages to open manholes, social media users accused SSP Anwar of staging fake encounters for personal benefit.
“Many black sheep in police do fake encounters to get rewards and promotions,” wrote one user.
Another wondered whether the man was killed “because he belonged to the tribal areas”.
One Facebook user posted a screenshot of a conversation he said he had had with Naqeebullah, in which the latter had reportedly wished that his son would join the Pakistan Army. Though this claim could not be verified, SSP Anwar had claimed in his factsheet that Naqeebullah had no wife and children.
The ‘encounter specialist’
Rao Anwar called the ‘encounter specialist’ by some, is known for carrying out ‘encounters’ of controversial nature against outlaws and has claimed in the past to have killed militants belonging to various terrorist organisations and the then-Mohajir Qaumi Movement activists during his raids.
The majority of such cases have remained unquestioned, apart from a few where the families of those shot dead have moved the court.