Karachi: Alarm bells ringing over Lyari gangster`s acquittals
KARACHI: Law–enforcement agencies are concerned at the quick rate of acquittal of alleged Lyari gangster Arshad Pappu in the criminal cases against him, it has been learnt. Pappu, son of Haji Lal Muhammad, earned a notorious reputation from the Lyari gang warfare. He was arrested by law–enforcement agencies in an apartment building in Lyari on Oct 11, 2006. The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) police carried out the raid which led to his arrest in coordination with the intelligence agencies. Well-placed sources say the suspect was acquitted in four cases against him in Nov 2008, two in December and one in September of last year. Senior police officers have pointed the finger of blame at the prosecution branch for what they described as not doing enough to stop the acquittal of cases against Pappu. “If such a pace of acquittal continues, the accused, who is an established `criminal`, will become a free man in matter of six months or a year,” observed a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.
Data obtained by Dawn from the relevant authorities suggests that Arshad Pappu has been indicted in 64 cases. He has so far been acquitted in 23 cases, while 41 cases are under trial.
Ironically, his conviction rate is zero, as he has not been convicted in a single case against him so far, the record shows.
According to the record, Arshad Pappu was acquitted from FIR 19/2004 registered at the Pak Colony police station under sections 353, 324, Pakistan Penal Code on Nov 11, 2008. He was acquitted in two more cases on the same date (FIR 45/2004 under sections 353, 324, 147, 148, 149 PPC and FIR 95/2004 under sections 353, 324, 34 PPC registered at the Pak Colony police station).
Likewise, on Nov 29, 2008, Pappu was awarded acquittal in FIR No 24/2008 under sections 353, 324, 34 PPC registered at the Pak Colony police station.
On Dec 13, 2008, Pappu was acquitted from two FIRs FIR 04/1996 under section 3/4 and FIR 182/2001 under section 395 PPC.
Earlier, on Sept 6, 2008 the accused was acquitted from FIR 129/2004 under sections 395, 397, 364, 435 PPC.
Arshad Pappu`s jail trial is being carried out at the Karachi Central Prison.
Officials said that acquittal in the cases of police encounters is understandable to some extent, but in FIRs 129/2004, 04/1996 and 182/2001 pertaining to drugs, the acquittals are entirely due to the failure of the prosecution branch.
“It`s always a weak prosecution that allows such elements to go free,” remarked an officer.
An officer said that if a witness of a particular case is not appearing in court, the prosecution could write to senior police officers for the production of the witness. However, the prosecution generally does not seem to have an interest in the cases, he added.
Instead, some conscientious judges go the extra mile by writing to the competent authority for the production of the witness, he said.
The officer cited a recent instance in which a judge in Sehwan has written to the Provincial Police Officer Sindh asking for the production of a police inspector who is a witness in a case and had not appeared before the court in several hearings.
At the time of his arrest in 2006, the former Capital City Police Officer Niaz Ahmed Siddiqui held a press conference, saying that Pappu carried a `head money` of Rs3 million and was wanted in around 60 criminal cases including murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping for ransom and police encounters.
Former advisor to the Sindh Chief Minister on Home Affairs Waseem Akhtar who was also present on the occasion, while replying to a query, dispelled the impression that Rehman Dakait would now enjoy a free hand in Lyari following Arshad`s arrest, and expressed the hope that Rehman would also be arrested soon.
His successor has expressed similar resolve while talking to the media on different occasions, but an even handed approach is yet to be seen.