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Apex court wants Rao arrested in three days

By Tahir Siddiqui and Imtiaz Ali 2018-01-28
KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday gave three days to the Sindh police chief to arrest SP Rao Anwar afteritwasinformed that a high-level probe body had concluded that the absconding officer was himself present at the site of the Jan 13 staged encounter in which Naseemullah, better known as Nageeb Ullah Mehsud, along with three others was killed.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Faisal Arab, was hearing a suo motu case of the killing of the 27-year-old in a fake encounter on the outskirts of the provincial metropolis at its Karachi registry.

Counter Terrorism Department chief Additional Inspector General Sanaullah Abbasi, who is the head of a three-member inquiry committee tasked to investigate Nageeb`s killing, submitted his report in the SC stadng that the police encounter that resulted in Nageeb`s death was prima facie a fake/staged one.

The report stated that the committee carried out a technical analysis of available call detail records (CDR) of cell numbers in use of nine police officers, including SP Rao, involved in the encounter indicated that they were present on the scene of the incident or its vicinity at the time of the encounter.

Itaddedthatatotalof444 suspects had been killed in 745 police encounters in Malir district between 2011 and 2018 during the tenure of SP Rao as SSP-Malir.

`SP Rao Anwar remained posted in Malir District for about six and halfyears in different stints. There is extreme fear prevailing amongst the witnesses who are fearful of their security, resultantly they are afraid to cooperate during inquiries and investigations against police,` said the report.

At the outset of the hearing, the CJP asked Sindh IG A.D. Khowaja if SP Rao was present in the courtroom.

When the IGP said the police officer was on the run, the CJP remarked that he should have been in court as he had been summoned by the court.

When asked by the chief justice what steps were taken to arrest him, IG Khowaja said that SP Rao was not in the city at the time of registration of a case and the police were trying their best to track him down.

`Has Rao been provided safe haven by anyone in Karachi as there are many people who can do so?` CJP Nisar posed a question to the IG, directing him to perform his duties freely by not being pressurised. `We will not lethonest officers fail,` the CJP said.

The IGP said that police were doing all they could, but he could not give a time frame as the court sought deadline of nabbing Rao.

However, on his request the court gave the IGP three days to arrest and produce SP Rao before the apex court.

The court also asked the Civil Aviation Authority if Rao had flown out by a private plane. `Currently, how many private planes are operating?` the CJP asked a CAA official, who replied that currently more than six were operating.

The court directed the CAA to submit affidavits of all private planes` owners declaring that Rao did not fly out aboard their plane.

The apex court also directed the interior ministry to check each border for ascertaining if Rao had fled through these borders. The interior minister was directed to submit a report by Feb 1 (Thursday).