High drama as MQM leader arrested, then freed

SSP Rao Anwar suspended for abusing power; inquiry ordered

Faraz Khan September 17, 2016
SSP Rao Anwar drags Khawaja Izhar towards the police vehicle after arresting him. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Khawaja Izharul Hasan was arrested and released five hours later in a rare move by the Sindh police that triggered a political firestorm in Karachi on Friday.

Both the provincial chief minister and the prime minister intervened in the high-profile arrest by SSP Rao Anwar in a clear effort to ease the tension between the government and MQM.

The drama began with the news of a police raid at the residence of Izhar, who also leads the opposition in the Sindh Assembly. The MQM leader along with his party colleagues was in a meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah when he was informed about the raid.

When Izhar rushed back to his house in Buffer Zone, he was taken into custody by the Malir SSP over his alleged involvement in the May 12, 2007 carnage.

The police officer told the media that the raid was meant to arrest some of the suspects of the May 12 mayhem as well as Raees Mamma, the alleged head of the MQM’s target killing squad. The suspects were said to be hiding at Izhar’s residence.

Sohrab Goth SHO Fasihuz Zaman, who conducted the first raid, contradicted Anwar’s claim. He said the operation was launched to arrest Izhar in the first place. “But due to his unavailability, we told the media we were searching for Raees Mamma and May 12 suspects to dodge others,” said Fasih, who was immediately suspended on the orders of CM Murad Ali Shah.

What prompted a backlash, however, was the method police employed. SSP Anwar, who is notorious for extrajudicial murders, tied the MQM leader’s hands with a rope and dragged him into an armoured personnel carrier despite resistance by family members and colleagues alike.

Izhar’s family accused the police of harassment for searching the house without warrants or female police. “They were looking for suspects but they went through the cupboards as well,” said a family member. “Despite knowing there were no men in the house, they searched the entire house without policewomen and also misbehaved with the women in the house.”

MQM chief Dr Farooq Sattar, who accompanied Izhar to his house, termed the arrest “unjustified and unlawful”.

“I think it will be better if all elected members of the MQM give their voluntary arrests instead of bearing this disrespectful attitude of the authorities,” he told media persons outside Izhar’s residence.

“I ask the army chief and the prime minister, whose agenda is this? Was the speaker asked before raiding the house of the opposition leader of the Sindh Assembly?” Sattar questioned.

He added the extrajudicial murders of MQM workers were ignored by the authorities but the May 12 issue was raised again and again. “Army chief, prime minister, chief minister and corps commander should decide whose agenda is Rao Anwar following?”

Though several MQM leaders, including Sattar, have been detained recently, this was the first action initiated by the police. But also for the first time, the Sindh government as well as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the arrest and took action.

Before SSP Anwar had shifted Izhar to the Gadap City police station for interrogation, the Sindh CM once again took notice and suspended the police officer for “misusing his authority”.

A Sindh police statement said the SSP has been suspended on immediate basis for misusing his authority and violating discipline as he had neither taken permission from the assembly speaker prior to the arrest nor did he inform the police chief or the zonal DIG. Anwar did not even inform the District Central police or the deputy commissioner before launching the raid within their jurisdiction.

An inquiry against the SSP has been initiated with South Zone police chief DIG Azad Khan as the head.

Besides Anwar, East Zone DIG Kamran Afzal was also removed and DIG West Zulfiqar given the additional charge of the East Zone. Korangi SSP Noman Siddiqui has been given charge of Malir.

A police source told The Express Tribune that a case against Anwar could also be registered for misusing his powers and challenging the government’s writ.

The government also plans to remove all the policemen, particularly the SHOs in Malir district, and appoint new personnel almost all Malir policemen are considered confidants of Anwar.

Back home

Izhar was, however, released within five hours. “It would premature to say anything,” Hasan told the media shortly after he was released from the Karachi Police Office.

“My mother has suffered a heart attack and I am on my way to home,” he said. Several MQM leaders, including Faisal Subzwari, Amir Khan and Arshad Vohra also reached Izhar’s residence.

Addressing a press conference MQM headquarters in PIB Colony, Izhar lamented that he was arrested like he was absconding from some cases for many years. “Police should call me and I will surrender myself,” he said, adding that his family’s women were mistreated by police.

He said the FIR on which he was arrested was registered more than two months ago and two more cases were hidden from him.

He also thanked all political leaders as well as the prime minister and Sindh chief minister and IGP for efforts leading to his release.

Anwar hits back

Despite his suspension, SSP Anwar went ahead to hold a press conference at his office to clarify his position and declared Izhar to be the chief of all target killers.

He said he did not breach any laws by arresting the MQM leader, who could now only be released on court orders. “I do not need anyone’s permission to arrest anyone,” he said, adding that Izhar was arrested in two treason cases registered against him. “Farooq Sattar and others [MQM leaders] should also be arrested.”

The SSP tried to clarify that he did not receive any orders from above and made the arrests according to the law. He also rejected the claims that permissions from the leader of the house are needed to arrest elected representatives.

The police officer even warned that Karachi would see “consequences of my suspension”.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2016.


Jawaid soomro | 5 years ago | Reply 12 May 2007 tragedy involved all parties like PPP,ANP,MQM,ST,JI, etc. Please investigate neutral basics..
Ihsan | 5 years ago | Reply 12 May 2007 was a black that many innocent people lost their lives, the main culprits are MQM that support the dictator Mushy because of his association with MQM, this incident should be brought again and again till every responsible person murderers gets the punishment and hanged for that carnage.MQM leaders are communal and criminals and they should be brought to justice.
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