–CJP Nisar tells AD Khowaja to ‘work freely without being influenced from any quarter’, throws SC’s weight behind honest police officials
–Sindh IG urges Rao Anwar to ‘face the court’ and adopt ‘legal course’ instead of evading arrest
KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Saturday gave three days to Sindh Inspector General of Police Allah Dino Khowaja for arresting the former Malir SSP [Senior Superintendent Police] Rao Anwar, while hearing suo motu case regarding the extrajudicial killing of Naqeebullah Mehsood in an alleged fake encounter.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Nisar and comprising Justice Gulzar and Justice Faisal Arab heard the case, after the apex court took suo motu notice of the killing earlier this week.
Naqeebullah, a 27-year-old native of South Waziristan, was among four suspected terrorists killed in an ‘exchange of fire’ with a police team led by the then-Malir SSP Rao Anwar on January 13 in Shah Latif Town, Karachi.
Following claims of innocence from Naqeebullah’s family, an inquiry committee was formed, after which Anwar and the raiding police party officials went into hiding. Anwar and his associates were also suspended by the government and an FIR was registered against them owing to their no-show and alleged involvement in the case.
After the registration of a murder case against Anwar and his team at Sachchal police station on the basis of findings of the inquiry committee, the IG Sindh on Friday formed a five-member investigation body to look into the ‘staged encounter’ of Naqeebullah.
Sindh Additional IG Aftab Pathan is head of the investigation team while two senior investigation officers and as many district police chiefs are its members. The committee on Saturday submitted its report to the SC’s Karachi Registry.
During Saturday’s hearing, Saqib Nisar inquired from AD Khowaja why Anwar had not appeared before the bench and what attempts had been made to arrest him.
“We had asked Rao Anwar to appear in the court. Is he present in the court?” asked the CJP. “He has run away,” replied the Sindh IG.
Justice Nisar said, “Rao Anwar should have appeared in the court. What efforts have you made to arrest him?” To this, AD Khowaja replied that every attempt had been made to locate and arrest the suspended official but he had gone into hiding.
Justice Nisar also asked the civil aviation authorities if the former SSP Malir has travelled in a private plane. “Tell us, has Rao Anwar travelled abroad in 15 days or not?”
Justice Nisar also ordered to present declarations of all chartered plane owners before the court.
“Has anyone in Karachi given Rao Anwar shelter so that he can hide? Isn’t it that where he has gone is a place which is out of your reach?” the CJP asked the IG Sindh.
The CJP told AD Khowaja to work freely without being influenced by anyone, saying the judiciary would not let honest police officials fail.
“How much time do you need to arrest him?” he asked.
“We cannot exactly tell when Rao Anwar will be arrested but we are doing our best,” AD Khowaja replied. The CJP later gave a timeframe of three days to ensure the arrest of the former Malir SSP.
“I have faith in the police as the department comprises competent officials,” said Justice Nisar and added, “Naqeebullah is ours and the nation’s son.”
An inquiry committee investigating Naqeebullah Mehsud’s ‘extrajudicial’ killing submitted its report to the court.
In the 15-page report, the committee declared Naqeebullah innocent and rejected the claims made by SSP Anwar in light of the evidence.
The report asserts that Naqeebullah alongside two other men, Qasim and Hazrat Ali, was picked up by policemen in plain clothes on January 3.
The other two men were set free after three days on January 6 after allegedly giving bribes for their safe release.
The men have now become eye-witnesses in the case and recorded their statements before the inquiry committee, the probe committee stated in its report.
The committee said that as many as 26 bullet casings of sub-machine guns have been recovered from the site and no evidence has been found of firing from the victims [alleged terrorists].
Moreover, it says that police have been conducting raids to arrest the police officers involved in the incident but no major breakthrough could be achieved as the suspended cops have turned off their mobile phones and went in hiding.
Separately, an analysis of cellular data has confirmed Rao Anwar was present at the scene of the ‘police encounter’ where Naqeebullah Mehsud was killed along with three other suspected terrorists.
A technical analysis of Call Detail Records (CDRs) of the cell numbers in use of Rao Anwar and his eight close associates shows that the police officials were present at the scene of the encounter, an investigative report on the incident revealed on Saturday.
Among Anwar’s associates present at the scene were ASI Khair Muhammad, SI Muhammad Anar, ASI Gada Hussain, SI Amanullah Marwat, SI Shoaib, HC Faisal Mehmood, HC Mohsin Abbass and PC Raja Shamim, the report stated.
‘IN RAO ANWAR’S INTEREST TO FACE THE COURT’:
While speaking to media outside the Supreme Court on Saturday, IG Khowaja urged Rao Anwar to “face the court” and adopt a “legal course” rather than evading arrest.
IG Khowaja weighed in over the ‘disappearance’ of the suspended police officer. He said: “I think that he [Rao Anwar] should face the court and court a legal course. The court will listen to his legal arguments.”
Responding to a question about SC’s order to arrest Rao Anwar within the next three days, IG Khowaja remarked: “We will try our best to arrest him.”
The IG also provided some clarification over the speculation that Rao Anwar has fled abroad. “In this regard, the Supreme Court has directed Civil Aviation Authority to take a certificate from all the private operators that he [Rao Anwar] hasn’t travelled abroad. They have also taken a certificate from the Interior Ministry.”