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September 27, 2020

ATC indicts Uzair Baloch, four accomplices for martyring two cops


September 27, 2020

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday indicted Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch and his four accomplices for martyring two policemen, including a station house officer (SHO), and injuring three others after they attacked the officials’ vehicle during the 2012 operation in the restive town.

On April 28, 2012, the then Civil Lines SHO Fawad Khan and Constable Malik Tasawar were martyred and three other policemen — namely Intizar Ali, Muhammad Aslam and Iftikhar Ahmed — were injured after their armoured personnel carrier (APC) came under attack by Baloch’s gang in Afshani Gali.

Led by the martyred SP Chaudhry Aslam, police had been conducting an operation against criminal gangs in Lyari when the Afshani Gali incident occurred. Law enforcement officials faced stiff resistance from armed gangsters camping in narrow lanes and on rooftops.

According to the prosecution, the APC was ambushed by over a dozen gangsters, who first crippled the tyres of the vehicles with bullets and then sprayed its windscreen with heavy gunfire, which caused five casualties at the police’s end.

The ATC judge read out the charges to Uzair Baloch, Zubair Baloch, Abdul Ghaffar (alias Mama), Zakir (alias Dada) and Ramzan (alias Ramzani), to which they pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges.

The judge framed the charges on the accused and ordered the investigating officer of the case to bring witnesses against them on the next hearing.

Uzair Baloch, chief of the now-defunct Peoples Aman Committee (PAC), is facing around five dozen cases in different ATCs and sessions courts inside the Central Jail Karachi.

The Sindh Rangers had announced his arrest in a raid on the outskirts of the city in January 2016. Some unverified reports suggested that he was arrested earlier from Dubai with the help of the Interpol. Later, a joint investigation team was formed to interrogate him.

In April 2017, the army had taken him into custody over spying for Iranian intelligence agencies, and this April he was convicted of the charge and sentenced to prison for 12 years.

Three weeks ago, he had told an ATC that he was suffering political victimisation for his affiliation with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and that efforts were being made to pressurise him into joining the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“I am being persecuted for belonging to the PPP. If today I give up and join the PTI, the charges against me will be dropped,” he claimed before the ATC-VIII judge during a hearing.

He was produced before the court at the judicial complex inside the central jail from the Mitha Ram Hostel amid tight security. The Sindh Home Department had in June transferred him from the prison to the hostel, which the Rangers use as a base.

He is also facing charges of murdering his rival gangster Arshad Pappu. A little under a fortnight ago, an ATC had expressed displeasure over the failure of the police to produce any witness against Baloch in the case.

The ATC-VIII judge ordered the IO of the case to ensure the presence of witnesses against the accused on the next hearing that would take place on September 28.

The court, which is conducting the trial inside the central prison, had framed charges against Uzair Baloch, former Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Shahjahan Baloch and three others last month.

Pappu had been killed along with his brother Arafat and an aide Jumma Shera by Uzair Baloch’s gang, known as the PAC, in Lyari and their bodies were desecrated.

Some of the nominated suspects like Noor Muhammad, alias Baba Ladla, have already died in encounters with law enforcement agencies or during shoot-outs with rival gangs, while some witnesses, including policemen, have lost their lives in targeted attacks.

On March 16, 2013, Pappu and two others were picked up by the police from their hideout in the upmarket DHA neighbourhood and later handed over to the PAC, whose members killed them.

Pappu himself had been facing several cases of felonies like murders, kidnappings and drug peddling, but was never convicted. A year before his death, he was acquitted of the murder of Uzair Baloch’s father Faiz Muhammad, alias Mama Faizu.