KARACHI: A three-man inquiry committee formed to probe the killing of Naseemullah Mehsud alias Naqeebullah Mehsud in Karachi has found that former SSP Rao Anwar staged a fake encounter to eliminate the young man.
The inquiry team was headed by Additional Inspector General Police Counter-Terrorism Department (AIG CTD) Sanaullah Abbasi and included Director Inspector General Police (DIGP) East Zone Sultan Ali Khawaja and Director Inspector General Police (DIGP) South Zone Azad Khan.
The team, citing eyewitness accounts, said Naqeebullah was ‘picked up’ along with two other suspects – Hazrat Ali and Qasim – on January 3 by security personnel in civvies and taken to the Sachal Police Post before being moved to another location.
They were illegally detained and tortured until January 6 when the eyewitnesses were released while Naqeebullah remained in custody.
The eyewitnesses told the inquiry panel that they came to know of Naqeebullah’s death in an ‘encounter’ from media reports on January 17, as did his family. The latter challenged the claims made by SSP Rao Anwar that Naqeebullah was a ‘terrorist’.
According to the report, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the committee found no evidence of Naqeebullah’s hand in any terror activities.
“His social media profile shows him as a liberal and fun-loving young man with a penchant for modelling,” the report added.
The report concluded that considering the suspect was moved from different locations until being killed on January 13, the encounter is prima facie fake.
The committee also pointed out that suspended SSP Rao Anwar persistently avoided attending the inquiry proceedings.
Despite being contacted through mobile phone and wireless controls, he “deliberately avoided joining the inquiry proceedings”.
On January 22, Anwar was called for a meeting with the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), which was on a fact-finding visit on the instructions of National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq at the Central Police Office but he “stayed away” from the meeting.
Where the former SPP consistently failed to show up in investigation meetings, he remained in touch with the media.
“He constantly appeared on the media for interviews,” the report said.
“He kept on interacting with the media, giving an impression that he was not called by the committee.”
“He showed extreme indiscipline and disobeyed the lawful commands by officials,” the report added.
The committee observed that Rao Anwar was “constantly trying to hamper and obstruct the process of justice”.
They also mentioned his attempt to flee the country from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on forged documents, knowing that he was being “investigated for serious allegations and is bound by law to join the proceedings”.
In its recommendations, the body has asked for protection for the witnesses, as it stated that both Ali and Qasim were reluctant to appear during the inquiry as they feared for their lives.
They were convinced by the Mehsud community to participate in the investigations.
The inquiry found through the call detail record (CDRs) analysis that Anwar and his close aides – namely SIP Marwat, SIP Shoaib, SIP Muhammad Anar, ASI Khair Muhammad, ASI Hussain, HC Faisal Mehmood, HC Abbass and PC Shamim – were present on the scene of the alleged encounter or in its vicinity.
The committee has further recommended that as an FIR has been registered against former SSP Rao Anwar and his team and considering the importance of the matter, “the investigation may be carried out by another team headed by an officer of the rank of AIGP”.
In another report, the NCHR painted a bleak picture of the law and order situation in Karachi, blaming police for the worsening situation.
“From the record shown, it became evident to the inquiry team that Rao Anwar has been involved in 192 encounters in which 444 people were killed,” it said.
“Keeping in view circumstantial evidence and its analysis, the NCHR Inquiry Team is of the opinion that the case is that of an extrajudicial killing, rather than a police encounter as claimed by the police party involved.”
Meanwhile, the police investigators probing the fake encounter of Naseemullah so far didn’t find any criminal record of other three suspected militants killed in the shootout along with Naseemullah.
The Sindh police through a communiqué had approached the provincial police chiefs of the country and asked them to check and share criminal records of the suspects.
However, sources privy to the matter said that their criminal records were not found from any province so far.
Muhammad Yousuf, the brother of Maulvi Ishaq, one of the suspected militants killed by the police along with Naseemullah told the media that hailing from Bahawalpur, Ishaq used to teach at a religious seminary.
The third suspected militant killed in the encounter was Nazar Muhammad. His real name was Muhammad Sabi, he said, adding that Sabir was the nephew of Ishaq.
He said that Ishaq and Nazar were abducted by plainclothes personnel from their hometown along with six others in November 2016.
Later, six others were released after at least eight months while Ishaq and Sabir remained in custody.
He claimed that there is no criminal record of both the people in any part of the country.
Also, airport entry passes of over one dozen police officers and personnel have also been cancelled.
The officers whose entry passes have reportedly been cancelled are: former Malir SP Dr Najeeb and former Sohrab Goth SP Chaudhry Saifullah.