“I am a law-abiding citizen of Pakistan,” said the white-haired man in his 70s, as he settled into a chair to speak to the judge in Anti-Terrorism Court I on Saturday.
The pronouncement came from Raza Hasan, who is the father of Askari Raza, a Shia leader who was killed in Karachi on December 31, 2011. His death inspired protests, including a sit-in by thousands of people outside Governor House, an act that prompted the government to declare several of its buildings in Karachi as part of the off-limits ‘red zone’.
Raza Hasan was in court to file an application with Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso, complaining that not enough was being done to solve his son’s murder.
Hasan – allowed to be seated for medical reasons – offered a long diatribe in the courtroom, prompting both his lawyer and the judge to note at several points that what he had to say was irrelevant to the application. The point he was trying to make though, is that his son had been marked for death for many months, because of his role in campaigning for people arrested by the police.
“He was killed on the directions of SSP Chaudhry Aslam and Maulana Orangzaib Farooqui,” Hasan said. He went on to explain his version of the events leading up to his son’s murder, from the arrest of Muntazir Imam, a suspected sectarian killer, last May. “He was arrested from the Madinatul Ilm Imambargah in Gulshan-e-Iqbal by CID police, on the directions of SSP Aslam and in collusion with Maulana Orangzaib Farooqui,” Hasan said of Imam’s arrest.
“Farooqui is a leader of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which now calls itself the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat,” he told the court.
Hasan alleged that Muntazir Imam had been implicated in “11 false cases” and a “joint investigation team was constituted under the influence of SSP Aslam and subsequently proved to be false.”
After Muntazir Imam’s arrest, Askari Raza and lawyer Mukhtar Abbas Bukhari [who was killed on July 23, 2011] went to SSP Aslam’s office, where Maulana Orangzaib Farooqui was present, Hasan told the judge. “They tried to prove that Muntazir Imam was not even in the country [at the time of the crimes he was accused of committing] by showing Muntazir Imam’s passport which proved he was in Malaysia.”
“But Chaudhry Aslam did not accept their arguments on this point,” Hasan said before alleging that Chaudhry Aslam had offered “Rs10 million to Raza and Bukhari to deny their support for Imam.” He also threatened the two men with death, according to Hasan, and so his son and the lawyer were “murdered at the behest of Aslam and Farooqui”.
Askari Raza’s father painted a portrait of his son as an activist who tried to clear Muntazir Imam’s name but was falsely implicated in cases himself. “He voluntarily gave his arrest at the Artillery Maidan police station,” Hasan said of his late son. “He was released after the investigation and he resumed pursuing the fake cases against Imam.”
After Askari Raza’s death and the sit-in, the Sindh governor invited a five-member delegation from the Shia community for talks with government officials. SSP Aslam was suspended briefly and Maulana Orangzaib Farooqui cut all public appearances to avoid being arrested after he was named in the First Information Report (FIR). However, Raza Hasan feels that nothing has happened since then, and Aslam was never really suspended. His lawyer, Syed Tasawur Hussain Rizvi, believes this is part of a wave of ‘sectarian hatred’ that has spread throughout the city.
“No action has been taken on the FIR. There has been no hearing,” Hasan said, with a tinge of bitterness.
Judge Khoso has set a date of June 7 for the next hearing.
Key actors: Innocent until
Askari Raza: leader, killed Dec 31, 2011 Raza Hasan: his father, testifying in court Muntazir Imam: suspected killer arrested, defended by Askari Mukhtar Abbas Bukhari: lawyer, killed on July 23, 2011, defended Imam Maulana Orangzaib Farooqui: leader of ASWJ CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam: approached over Imam
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.