The suspected mastermind behind the attack on Justice Maqbool Baqar admitted that the group spent nearly Rs2.2 million only to prepare for the attack.
The suspect, whose real name has yet to be ascertained since he changed identities frequently, planned the attack on the convoy of the senior judge of the Sindh High Court, Justice Baqar, on June 26. He was declared arrested on Wednesday along with his two companions after the investigators raided the suspects’ hideout in Surjani Town based on the information provided by a suspect they had already apprehended. The alleged mastermind and a policeman were wounded in the police raid. Investigators say that the mastermind of the attack frequently changed his identity and was known by names, such as Bashir Chandio and Masoom Leghari. They have confirmed, however, that he was associated with the Asif Chotu group of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
The suspect is currently under treatment at a government hospital in Karachi under strict security but the police have refused to reveal the name of the facility. The arrested mastermind was directly in touch with the group’s chief, Asif Chotu, who is operating the group from Waziristan, an official said.
The city police chief also confirmed the arrests. It is a major achievement of the police as the arrested person is not only an operative but the mastermind, he said. “Not only was he the mastermind of the attack on Justice Baqar but we believed that he was the mastermind of several other terror acts, especially in Karachi,” said Additional IG Ghulam Qadir Thebu, while talking to The Express Tribune. “We suspect he planned several sectarian attacks and killings, including that of senior lawyer Kauser Saqlain.”
Since the mastermind was shot once in his abdomen and is undergoing treatment, the police have been unable to record his statement, said Thebu. During initial interrogation, he did reveal that the group spent Rs2.2 million on monitoring the judge before they carried out the attack.
Justice Baqar came under attack on June 26, when he - along with his police and Rangers squads - was moving towards the SHC from his residence and a powerful bomb blast occurred at on court road. At least nine law enforcers in his convoy lost their lives and over 18 others were wounded in the attack, but the judge miraculously survived. He is, however, still under treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital.
Following the attack, a six-member special investigation team - headed by DIG South Dr Ameer Shaikh - was constituted by Thebu to probe into the attack. District South SSP Nasir Aftab, South Investigation SSP, Special Investigation Unit SP Farooq Awan, Anti Violent Crime Cell SP Niaz Khosa, Saddar division SP Salman Hussain and SIO of Aram Bagh police station were members of the committee. The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had also claimed responsibility of the attack.
ASWJ claims affiliation
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, formerly known as the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, has condemned the police raid at the residence of the alleged mastermind. “Leghari is the chairperson of the Deoband Action Committee, a social leader and a businessman,” claimed ASWJ central leader Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqui. “The police are making this drama to give cover to their failure to find out the culprits involved in the attack.”
Meanwhile, residents of Surjani Town staged a protest against the arrest of the alleged mastermind and demanded the government and law enforcement agencies release the men, they believed were innocent, from their custody . They said that Basheer Ahmed Leghari did not have any links with any group of militants. A large number of law enforcers reached the protest site to calm the situation down.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2013.
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