Two MQM-L activists jailed for 21 years in secretariat attack case

KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday awarded 21 years rigorous imprisonment to two convicts said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London and trained by the Indian spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, in a case pertaining to an attack on the Sindh Secretariat in 1995.

The convicts — Mohammad Nasir, alias Khaji, and Mohammad Faheem, alias Mirchi — were found guilty of committing crimes punishable under Section 5 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 read with Section 6(2)(ee) and 27-A of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and Section 23(i)-A of the Sindh Arms Act, 2013.

The ATC-XIII judge, who conducted trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his verdict, earlier reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

Forfeiture of their moveable and immovable properties ordered

The judge handed down rigorous imprisonment (RI) of 14 years and a fine of Rs100,000 each to both the accused for possessing explosives. On default, they would have to undergo an additional RI for six months.

The judge further sentenced them to seven-year RI and a fine of Rs50,000 each for possessing illicit arms. They would have to serve an additional RI for three months.

The court also ordered forfeiture of their moveable and immovable properties to the government as provided under Section 5-A of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908. All sentences awarded to the accused shall run concurrently.

According to the prosecution, the Rangers disclosed 90-day preventive detention of Nasir and Faheem before the administrative judge of the ATCs in Feb 2016.

During interrogation, they had allegedly confessed to having attacked the Sindh Secretariat with hand grenades in 1995.

Faheem was allegedly associated with the MQM’s Ranchhore Line sector’s Unit 30 and Nasir with Lyari sector’s Unit 32 and were arrested in Usmanabad near Garden.

Rangers’ version

Rangers’ special public prosecutor Mushtaq Ahmed Jahangiri contended that the detained men had confessed before a joint investigation team to being members of the MQM-Altaf and on the directions of their leaders they had murdered various persons, including police and military personnel, and carried out blasts.

He further alleged that they had also confessed to having received training from India and carried out an attack on the Sindh Secretariat as well as military and naval installations.

He argued that the JIT had declared them ‘black’ because of their involvement in heinous crimes. The detained men voluntarily confessed to having committed their crimes and also led the police to the recovery of a rifle grenade, a hand grenade, a repeater gun, a 0.30 bore pistol and bullets in the presence of private witnesses.

The prosecution examined two private witnesses — Mohammad Tahir and Mohammad Bilal — in whose presence the recoveries were made, prosecutor Jahangiri highlighted, adding that during the trial Bilal was murdered and his relatives blamed his murder on the accused persons.

He contended that the detained accused had committed the alleged crime, for which they did not deserve any lenience, therefore, they be convicted in accordance with law.

Denial of allegations

In their statements, recorded under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code, both detained men denied all prosecution allegations levelled against them and stated that they were apprehended by Rangers’ personnel.

Nasir added that on July 22, 2015 the Sindh High Court was petitioned by his younger brother, Azeem Ahmed, who also registered an FIR regarding his (Nasir’s) alleged disappearance at the Garden police station.

Both the detained men stated that the Rangers personnel kept them under 90-day prevention detention under Section 11 EEEE of the ATA from Feb 24, 2016 to May 25, 2016, then handed them over to the police, who implicated them in false cases with mala fide intention and also foisted fake recoveries on them. The accused persons claimed that they were innocent and asked for justice.

During the trial, prosecution witness Syed Imran Imam Zaidi deposed that he was posted as a civil judge and judicial magistrate (South) and on June 14, 2016, he had recorded a confessional statement of the accused persons on a request of the IO after completing all the legal formalities. He also produced the confessional statements of both accused.

The court noted that the defence counsel contended that a confessional statement was recorded by the magistrate on oath, which was inadmissible in the evidence. But the defence counsel did not raise such objection at the time of final arguments.

The court further noted that apart from the present crimes the accused had also confessed to committing various other crimes on the instruction and directions of their party leaders.

“From perusal of confessional statement, it appears that accused admit the numbers of target killing committed by them; they get military training from India with their companions, they informed (disclosed) the secrets about the Pakistan Border, they had targeted the vital institution of Pakistan on the instigation of country enemies,” the judge noted.

Four separate cases were registered under sections 4/5 of the Explosives Substances Act read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 read with Section 23(I)-A of the Sindh Arms Act, 2013.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2018

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