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Friday April 19, 2024

Uzair Baloch, three other alleged Lyari gangsters acquitted in APC attack case

By Yousuf Katpar
March 01, 2024
Uzair Baloch. — The News File
Uzair Baloch. — The News File

An anti-terrorism court on Thursday acquitted Uzair Baloch, chief of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee (PAC), and three other alleged gangsters in a 12-year-old case pertaining to an attack on police.

Baloch, Zakir alias Dada, Ghulam Muhammad alias Ghulamu, and Muhammad Salam alias Mulla Nisar alias Nisar Ahmed had been charged with rioting, opening fire and throwing a hand grenade at police within the Kalakot police remits in April 2012.

The ATC-VI judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, announced his order after recording evidence and final arguments from both defence and prosecution sides.

He ruled that the prosecution failed to establish the charges against the accused beyond the shadow of doubt; therefore, they were entitled to the benefit of doubt. The judge acquitted all the accused and ordered the jail authorities to release them forthwith if they were not required in any other case.

He noted that Uzair Baloch had been in custody since 2016 but he was booked in the present case on August 31, 2022. “The cropped up point need[s] attention of this court is that when instant crime took place on April 13, 2012 and accused was in custody since 2016, why he was not nabbed in this crime earlier and how after about six years he was formally arrested in the instant crime. No answer on this point has been advanced by Inspector Muhammad Rafique (second IO),” the judge remarked.

“These accused as per claim of the eyewitnesses and IO PI Rafique Ahmed were thoroughly interrogated, but no incriminating article was recovered on their pointantion.” The judge said one accused Abdul Ghaffar alias Mama had already been acquitted by this court.

“When the above facts combined together without any second thought indicate that present accused are not authors of the subject crime and they have been entangled in this crime mere on disclosure of their names by spy informer without collecting any strong material against them. Thus, the participation of the present accused in the commission of crime is doubtful,” he added.

According to the prosecution, on April 13, 2012, a police party patrolling in an armoured personnel carrier (APC) received spy information about people having gathered in large numbers at Aath Chowk, Kalakot, blocking the road and pelting passer-by vehicles with stones.

The informer had told the police team that Uzair Baloch, Shakeel Baloch, Noor Muhammad alias Baba ladla, Zahid Ladla, Rashid Ladla, Faisal Pathan, Fahad Pathan, Taj Muhammad Taju, Zafar Baloch, Habib Jan, Ghulam Muhammad alias Ghulamu, Wasiullah Lakho, Ghaffar alias Mama Ghaffar, Shahid Mixpatti, Naeem Lahoti, Younis Madi, Mullah Nisar and Zakir alias Dada, along with 300-400 armed having deadly weapons and batons, had gathered there, the prosecution said.

Upon seeing the APC, it added they opened indescriminate fire on it and threw a hand grenade, as a result of which the APC was damaged. When the police retaliated, the accused taking advantage of narrow streets fled the scene.

On the other hand, defence counsel Hyder Farooq Jatoi, Intikhab Ahmed and Ghulam Fareed Baloch contended that their clients were innocent as there was no evidence to corroborate the charges against them, requesting the judge to acquit them.

An FIR was lodged at the Kalakot police station under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 324 (attempted murder), and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Sections ¾ of the Explosive SUbstance Act read with Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Uzair Baloch has been kept at the Mitha Ram Hostel since his conviction by a military court in April 2020 in an espionage case. The detention facility is being maintained by the Sindh Rangers.

The alleged warlord had been booked in dozens of cases pertaining to murder, kidnapping, encounter with police during the 2012 operation in Lyari, grenade attacks on law enforcement personnel, and running an extortion racket.

As of now, he has been acquitted in more than two dozen cases, either due to insufficient evidence or courts giving him the benefit of reasonable doubt.