Thursday May 23, 2024

13 MQM workers convicted in 2015 case of arms discovery during raid on Nine Zero

By Zubair Ashraf
April 24, 2021

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday convicted 13 workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and acquitted one as it concluded the case of discovery of a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives from the party’s headquarters Nine Zero in a pre-dawn raid by the Rangers six years ago.

The paramilitary force had claimed that they seized a total of 112 weapons, including seven G22 rifles, five G3 rifles, four 8mm rifles, 19 7mm rifles, two light machine guns, 19 sub-machine guns, two .222 rifles, 22 12bore repeaters, two .223 rifles, 11 GSAS rifles, one .22 rifle, 14 30bore pistols and four 9mm pistols, along with over 11,750 rounds of different kinds.

The force added that each of the accused was also carrying an Avan bomb (rifle grenade); however, the court acquitted all of them of this charge, observing that since no launcher was found during the raid, the claim that the suspects were carrying rifle grenades could not be trusted as they could not use those rifle grenades without a launcher.

According to the prosecution, an inspector of the Pakistan Rangers Sindh Wing-73 had received information about the presence of an absconder Faisal Mehmood, convicted in absentia to death for the murder of Geo News’ journalist Wali Babar, at the Khursheed Memorial Hall, also dubbed as Nine Zero, which served as the headquarters of the MQM in Pakistan.

Acting on this tip, the Rangers conducted an early morning raid at the MQM headquarters on March 11, 2015, and arrested Faisal who was allegedly found carrying a 9mm pistol and an Avan bomb. The prosecution stated that the accused later led the paramilitary force to a place in Khursheed Memorial Hall where a large cache of arms and ammunition was kept.

The Rangers had implicated Faisal, Nadir Shah, Shabbir Ahmed, alias Farhan Mulla, Imtiaz Hussain, Syed Kazim Raza Rizvi, Abdul Qadir Hingoro, Nadeem Ahmed, Muhammad Javed, Muhammad Amir, Muhammad Shakeel, Mehmood Hasan, Muhammad Abid, Ubaid Khursheed and Aamir Ali each in a couple of cases pertaining to possessing illicit weapons and explosives.

The accused had denied the charges, with some of them contending that they were arrested from their residences instead and the weapons found on them were licensed and kept for security purposes. They, however, could not prove their defence in court except Nadir who produced a CD which showed him being arrested from his home in the presence of his wife and the pistol found on him was legal.

MQM leader Farooq Sattar, who now leads a faction of the party, had presented a list of 105 licences of prohibited and non-prohibited bores which were issued in the name of different leaders of the party. The court sent the list for verification to the federal interior ministry and found that only 65 of them were legit.

The judge observed that the rest of the weapons were illegal and in the light of evidence produced by the prosecution, a CD of the anchorperson Mubasher Lucman’s Khara Sach show of March 12, 2015, were of the US Navy and Taliban. He added that the defence plea was not comprehensive and could only be accepted till the extent of the verified licences.

The judge convicted Faisal to 10 years in jail with a fine of Rs50,000, which in case of non-payment would turn into six months’ additional imprisonment. Abid, Ubaid and Shabbir were sentenced to eight years in jail with a fine of Rs30,000, which in case of non-payment would result in three months’ additional imprisonment. Aamir, Javed, Amir, Mehmood, Imtiaz, Kazim, Qadir, Nadeem and Shakeel were handed down six years in jail and a fine of Rs10,000 each, which in case of default would turn into two more months in jail.

On the charge of possessing explosives, the judge observed that no launcher was recovered either from the accused or from the Nine Zero, therefore, it did not attract a “prudent mind” to believe that the rifle grenades would be kept by each accused for utilising the same without any launcher. He then exonerated all of the accused from the charge.

He added that the courts could only act upon the evidence and material presented before them which was to be collected by the executive and the former could not be blamed if the latter failed in their duty.

The judge noted that the evidence collected by the executive must be evaluated according to the laws and judicial standards. On the fate of the licensed weapons, the judge ruled that they should be confiscated in the light of the Supreme Court judgement in Karachi law and order case (PLD 2011 SC 997) which called for cancellation of unnecessary arms licences until the competent authority decided otherwise.