Encounters of the allegedly murderous kind are in the dock at the Anti-Terrorism Court-III, where five police officers are on trial.
A former SHO co-accused of the murder of four Baloch men in Karachi on New Year’s Eve 2008 was cross-examined at the Anti-Terrorism Court-III on Thursday.
The officer, Malik Irshad, and four of his colleagues - Noor Mohammad Shah, Zahoor Khan, Mirza Zaheer and Zafar Ali - have been charged with common intent and murder.
The officers initially said that they had killed the men in an alleged encounter after they came under fire. The attack took place on Tariq Road when the officers were tracing a stolen, black Toyota Corolla and saw a similar car approach.
Irshad - who used to work at the Anti-Car Lifting Cell - had earlier claimed that the murder was an act of self defense. On Thursday, he told the court that, at the time of the murder, 16 cars were stolen on a daily basis and he had received information of the black car being stolen.
However, he testified that he had not called the car tracking company and asked it to seize the engine so the car would stop.
Irshad had told the court that the victims had fired on the police, meaning they fired in retaliation. However, he admitted under cross examination that if there was an exchange of fire, no passerby was injured. He also admitted that his initial account to the police differed from what he had said in court. Malik Irshad did not state in the First Information Report or the memo of arrest that their police van was hit.
He believed that the FIR was given a ‘C’ class status later on due to the police’s ‘bad intentions’. Irshad also believed that the investigating officer of the case was biased, yet he never asked his superiors in the force to investigate this or challenged the FIR’s status.
Irshad also confirmed that in an inquiry conducted by a senior superintendent and the deputy inspector-general for investigation, the officers had opined that Irshad had “registered a false FIR of the incident.”
However, he denied that he had registered the report claiming they had been shot at to ‘save the officers’ skin’.
The court will next hear the case on December 4.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2012.
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