Judgment details: For the Rangers, first it was an encounter, later an accidental death

Sarfraz Shah did not put up his hands and instead tried to snatch the G-3, maintained the accused.

Express August 12, 2011

KARACHI: Soon after Sarfraz Shah breathed his last, the Rangers men called the police to their headquarters and handed over a pistol, three bullets, one used casing, a purse containing Rs750 and a mobile phone as the articles they found on the alleged robber, noted the anti-terrorism court’s judgment.

On Friday, Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso sentenced one Rangers man to death and six others to life in prison for killing 22-year-old Sarfraz Shah in broad daylight on June 8 in a case that shocked Pakistanis.

Rangers Sub Inspector Bahaur Rahman, who stood trial, was present at that time and informed the visiting police officer, SI Riaz Hussain of Boat Basin police station, that “During the encounter, the deceased had fired upon them with his pistol”.

The Rangers superintendent then asked SI Hussain, who testified for the prosecution at trial, to take Afsar Khan (the man who handed Sarfraz over to the Rangers) and lodge an FIR according to Afsar and the squad’s version, noted the judge.

The judge held that the plea that it was a fake encounter that fell out at the early stage of the investigation and led to a cancellation of the FIR No. 225/2011 at Boat Basin in which Sarfraz Shah was shown as a robber.

At the fag end of the trial and in their statements before the court, the accused men denied a common intention to kill Sarfraz, maintain that the gun went off accidentally and the shots were suddenly fired unintentionally. This happened because instead of raising his hands as directed, Sarfraz repeatedly moved towards accused Shahid Zafar and attempted to snatch his G-3 rifle. The accused Rangers also submitted that they called an ambulance, took the injured Sarfraz to hospital and ensured that he was treated by doctors at the emergency.

The court held that the facts and circumstances showed that the accused men had motive to commit murder. Their actions clearly indicated that they first fired at Sarfraz and then waited to see him die. They did not give him any first aid nor did they stop Shahid Zafar from firing at Sarfraz who was emptyhanded and could have easily been captured by any person.

It was their bad luck that the murder was captured by an independent cameraman and was subsequently telecast by television channels upon which the Supreme Court took suo motu notice, ordered investigations afresh, leading to the arrest and trial of the accused and a cancellation of the false and foisted FIRs against Sarfraz.

The accused men failed to rebut the prosecution’s allegations and kept changing their version in their defence, the ATC noted. The court decided they were guilty of first-degree murder.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2011.