Rao Anwar, others acquitted in Naqeebullah murder case

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Monday acquitted all accused, including former senior superintendent of police (SSP) Rao Anwar, of killing Naqeebullah Mehsud, five years after the youth was shot dead on the outskirts of the city. The court stated that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the accused. Speaking to the media after the acquittal, Rao Anwar said that a false case was made against him, but thanks to the Almighty and judgement, the “false allegation” was proved wrong. A visibly happy Anwar said he would give a detailed answer to the media later.

He alleged that 25 people were wrongly nominated in the murder case, saying that the person killed was a wanted terrorist whose name was Naseemullah and not Naqeebullah. “He was a wanted campaigner for whom advertisements were also placed, including in newspapers.” When asked if he would like to rejoin the police department, the former police official said he has one year of service left and would “like to serve Karachi”. “I liberated Karachi from many cruel people,” claimed Anwar. The complainant’s counsel, Barrister Sallahuddin Panhwar, stated in his closing arguments that the case involved three episodes: Naqeeb’s abduction, his illegal detention and later his extrajudicial killing.

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He said Naqeeb and his friends Hazrat Ali and Qasim, were kidnapped from Gulsher Agha Hotel on Abul Hassan Isphani Street on January 3, 2018. He added that Anwar and other suspects demanded a ransom of Rs 1 million for his release, adding that Ali and Qasim were released from illegal detention on January 6, while Naqeeb was handed over to the Shah Latif City police. Panhwar added that on January 13, Naqeeb and three others were killed in a staged encounter at Usman Khaskheli Goth by the accused policemen who called the victims terrorists.

He said, “geographical attack, a technical analysis of call data records and circumstantial evidence suggest Rao Anwar’s involvement 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 contacting SHO Shah Latif town,” added advocate. He alleged that the former SSP supported the kidnapping for ransom and killing of the victim and later tried to cover up the illegal acts by billing the victims as militants. He pleaded with the court to punish the accused policemen according to law. On the other hand, defense advocates Abid Zaman and Aamir Mansoob argued that there were discrepancies in the witness statements and asked the judge to acquit their clients.

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According to the prosecution, the call data record showed the presence of Rao Anwar at the crime scene and near New Sabzi Mandi on Super Highway on January 4, 5, 8, 9 and 13. However, Rao Anwar in his statement had denied the allegations of involvement in the extrajudicial killings and testified that he was not present at the scene 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 is involved in the case based on “managed geo-fencing and call data logging” in the conduct of a senior police officer had professional rivalry. The former SSP, on the run from law enforcement authorities for two months, had surrendered before the Supreme Court and was subsequently remanded in custody. He was moved to a sub-jail-turned-house in the Malir cantonment area instead of being held in the central jail and was finally released on bail in July 2018.