Confessions of a mafia lord

Atta Chauhan May 26, 2010

PASRUR: The police finally managed to apprehend a district naib nazim from Tehran, Iran after authorities took his mother and sister into custody and threatened to abuse them.

Pasrur tehsil naib nazim Raja Waheed Murad agreed to cooperate with police officials after they threatened him with dire consequences for his family, who they had taken into custody. Saddar police officials arrested Murad from Tehran and brought him back to Gujranwala on May 25, 2010. Murad has been identified as a hardened criminal who is extremely well connected and has openly been conducting illegal businesses, taking cuts from robberies that take place in the area and has also been charged as an accomplice in several cases of manslaughter.

Six months ago, Murad and three of his accomplices kidnapped a citizen on charges of stealing a tractor. The four men took one, Azam out into the fields and brutally assaulted him. They beat him with lead pipes until he was near death and left him in the fields. Azam died a few hours later. Locals protested the incident and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, on his visit, to Gujranwala ordered the immediate arrest of Murad and his accomplices.

An FIR under section 302 was registered in the Saddar police station against Murad and ten of his accomplices. Police managed to arrest five of Murad’s men immediately but the former tehsil nazim managed to escape the country with five of his men. The chief minister deployed Sialkot district police officer Waqar Ahmed Chohan to follow up the matter. Chohan said that Murad was extremely well connected and had been supported by a former high court judge in the area, who he had paid Rs 1.7m to keep his activities quiet. Murad also confessed to receiving kickbacks from two former ministers in the area, and having paid them off with Rs3.5 milion. Murad, once arrested, gave a detailed confession of his activities to the authorities and implicated over 40 police officials for supporting him over the past seven years.

He accused 18 district superintendent police officials and 14 inspectors of collaborating with him, giving him tip offs and even arranging for his men to stash their robbed goods until they felt safe enough to retrieve them. “The police has been my greatest supporter throughout my activities. They are the ones who made it easy and helped me when it wasn’t,” Murad said. Murad implicated DSP Akramullah K Nizami, Malik M Liaqat, Mirza Liaqat, Saleem Saadiq, Rana Zahid for helping him conduct his criminal operations.

“The set up was pretty large and my men are spread across Narowal, Sialkot, Gujranwala and Gujrat. Any major robbery that took place in any of those areas had to go through my network. I had a 50 per cent stake in everything and the rest was open to the robbers,” Murad said. “Keeping this quiet was much easier than even we thought because no one dared to say anything about us,” he said. “I paid some high ups in office over Rs25 milion to get Mohammad Maqsood elected to the office of tehsil naib nazim and I paid the same amount when I ran for the election,” he said. Murad also admitted to having sold the Pasroor Taj Sugar Mills with fake document to a Memon family in Karachi over four times. He said that ‘Sindhis could be very gullible.’

Murad told the police and reporters that his primary targets had always been education officials and army majors and brigadiers. “They are the easiest to bribe and the easiest to manipulate,” he said. Admitting that his public office allowed him a much larger network than he would ordinarily have had, Murad said “well, I used to be a small time criminal but when I got the nazim’s post I suddenly had access to a much larger network than ever before. In Pakistan, crime pays, all in all I have managed to amass a wealth of over Rs seven billion, property of 14 acres and over seven luxury vehicles,” he said.

Murad said that his mother and sister had ‘supported him’ in all his ventures. “Once the police threatened me with my family I had to turn myself in. They said that they had them in their custody and they would be treated as ‘women are treated in the thaana’,” Murad said. “I surrendered immediately.” DPO Waqar Ahmed Chohan said that all the police officials that Murad had identified have been arrested. “They will be dealt with under the law. I personally, would like to see them all punished severely for tainting the dignity of the police office, but that is not my job,” he said. Chohan said that Murad’s recorded confession would serve as evidence in bringing down his elaborate crime network.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 27th, 2010.