Wednesday July 17, 2024

Three men acquitted in Rangers attack case

By Yousuf Katpar
May 27, 2023

An anti-terrorism court has acquitted three accused in a five-year-old case pertaining to an armed attack on Rangers personnel. Sarfaraz Hussain, Asif Zikri and Abdul Majid had been charged with attacking paramilitary troops with hand grenades and automatic weapons in Lyari’s Ali Muhammad Zikri Mohalla in March 2018.

The ATC-XVI judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central jail, pronounced his verdict reserved after recording evidence and hearing arguments from both defence and prosecution sides. The judge exonerated the accused from all the charges, observing that the prosecution failed to prove its case against them.

The judge remanded the accused back to prison with a direction to the jail superintendent to release them forthwith if they are not required in any other case. According to the prosecution, on March 13, 2018, a contingent of the Rangers was patrolling the Lyari neighbourhood when it spotted two men suspected to be affiliated with the Ghaffar Zikri group. Upon realising that they had been noticed, they attempted to flee the scene and when the Rangers personnel chased them, they opened indiscriminate firing and hurled a hand grenade. As a result, a soldier, Fawad Hussain, was martyred. The paramilitary troops retaliated and killed one of the attackers.

Subesquently, an extra contingent of Rangers and police reached the area and launched an operation, leading to the killing of four more suspects. The Rangers prosecutor contended that Sarfaraz was apprehended at the spot in an injured condition. However, he added, seven to eight suspects, including Ghaffar Zikri, one of the main characters of the Lyari warfare, Majid and Asif, managed to evade capture. Ghaffar Zikri was gunned down during a joint operation carried out by police and Rangers in the Baghdadi area on October 4, 2018.

Defence lawyers, including Shabana Chouhan and Muhammad Farooq, contended that the prosecution lacked sufficient evidence to corroborate the charges against their clients. Sarfaraz, who was said to have been arrested at the scene, was a resident of the area and got injured in crossfire between the personnel and attackers, Farooq said. Ms Chouhan argued that her client Majid was already behind bars and later booked in the present case. The court, therefore, was pleaded to acquit them for lack of evidence.