Back on the street: Pir Chambal attack suspect walks free

ATC judge claims prosecution failed to provide evidence against accused.

Our Correspondent July 09, 2014

RAWALPINDI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday acquitted a suspect involved in the killing of four army officials and a civilian aide in Pir Chambal, Jhelum in November 2011 owing to lack of evidence.

ATC Judge Rana Masood Akhtar, while hearing the case, acquitted Muhammad Ijaz alias Daud as police failed to produce solid evidence against him. The court, in its short order, noted that the prosecution could not produce actionable evidence against the accused and thus the court acquitted him.

On November 12, 2011, four officials of the Military Intelligence and a civilian aide were killed while on duty at Pir Chambal hills, on the boundary of Chakwal and Jhelum. Next year, on February 21, Ijaz was arrested for his alleged involvement in the killings. At the time, the police had claimed they recovered weapons as well as belongings of the deceased officials from Ijaz’s possession. Later, formal proceedings were initiated against Ijaz in the ATC.

The suspect’s counsel had submitted an application requesting the court to acquit his client, saying Ijaz had been locked up for two years and the police had not produced a single shred of evidence against him. He pleaded with the court to acquit his client as the police had failed to make their case.

According to an interim investigation report submitted by the area’s SHO to the ATC in April 2012, a group of terrorists led by Dr Muhammad Arshad, who has links with the Taliban, were involved in the killings.

The victims — Major Afaq Ahmed, Hawaldar Mazhar Abbas, Naik Faiz Muhammad, Lance Naik Waqas Ahmed and civilian Afsar — were said to be on a mission to gather information on militant hideouts in Pir Chambal mountains.

The report had revealed that the group was using the remote Pir Chambal shrine as a training ground and was also involved in attacks on an Imambargah in Chakwal and a worship place in Mandi Bahauddin.

The investigators had stated that Ijaz alias Daud and Waheed Ahmed were under arrest while other suspects, Waqas Ilyas and Dilshad Khan, had to be released since police found no evidence against them.

According to the FIR registered on the complaint of Hawaldar Ahmed Khan, a five-member team led by Major Afaq was ambushed by terrorists in November 2011. Only the complainant managed to escape unharmed and hid in a nearby forest. A combined operation was later carried out by the army and local police in which suicide vests, explosive materials and documents identifying some of the terrorists were found, the report had claimed.

PAT activists’ case adjourned

In a separate case, the same bench adjourned a hearing on bail applications of 53 workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) who requested the court to acquit them on charges of attacking policemen on June 23. The court adjourned the matter till July 10 while directing the Airport police to submit complete record in the case.

On July 4, the court had sent political workers on judicial remand for 10 days, however, they had filed bail applications in the court.  Police had arrested 53 PAT workers on charges of clashing with policemen on June 23 outside the Benazir Bhutto Airport International Airport where PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri was due to land. During the hearing on Tuesday, Airport police failed to submit record and sought more time. The court, while giving more time, put off the hearing till July 10.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.


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