KARACHI: In what was the first conviction by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) during Ramazan, a man affiliated with a notorious gang was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday. The court convicted him on terrorism charges.
Shahid Hussain alias Farangi, a lieutenant of notorious gangster Ahmed Ali Magsi, was arrested in August, 2013, after an encounter in Napier. The prosecution claimed he was caught red-handed torturing a trader, whose name has not been disclosed, over his refusal to pay extortion. According to investigation officer inspector Zahid Hussain, a 30-bore pistol and a hand grenade were seized from him after police personnel rounded him up following an exchange of fire.
The prosecution presented at least three witnesses, including the police officer who had arrested him and the person who was being extorted, before the court. They recorded their testimonies, deposing against the suspect.
The trader stated that Hussain had demanded protection money worth Rs50,000 and threatened to kill him. When he refused, Hussain manhandled him and pointed his gun at him. Meanwhile, he added, a police mobile on routine patrol reached the area and arrested the suspect.
On the other hand, the suspect pleaded innocent, claiming that the charges against him were false. "I was not arrested from Napier," he said. "I was taken into custody from Civil hospital where I had brought my neighbour, [who had been] shot and injured outside his house in PIB Colony." The neighbour in question, Sabir alias Pappu, who later died in the hospital, was also an activist of the same gang as Hussain. "Activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) killed him," he deposed.
A police official, who was not involved with the investigation of this case, told The Express Tribune that parts of PIB Colony had seen fierce clashes between MQM and the Magsi group, which was said to be backed by the defunct Peoples Amn Committee. According to him, Magsi had allegedly shot dead a sector member of the MQM in his house in 2012, apparently avenging the murder of his younger brother.
Meanwhile, the suspect denied having links with any group before the court and said that he just tried to save the life of his neighbour by taking him to the hospital. He added that he did not know that the neighbour had a criminal record.
Two witnesses, including Sabir's mother, were presented before the court in defence of the suspect. However, their testimonies could not save him. ATC-IX judge Farman Ali Kanasro, after scrutinising the evidences presented before him, found Hussain guilty of the offences. Announcing the verdict, he observed that the prosecution established its case against the suspect while the defence failed to bring any evidence on record to prove their stance.
Hussain was handed down a collective jail term of 46 years on account of a number of charges: 14 years for possessing explosives, 10 years for spreading terror and as many for attempting to murder, seven years for possessing illicit weapons, three years for extortion and two years for attacking law enforcing personnel. As the judge ordered that all the sentences will run concurrently, the longest term will, therefore, be counted as the total imprisonment time.
He was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs175,000. In case of failure to pay the amount, he would undergo an additional grilling of 15 months.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.