Karachi: Witnesses ‘identify’ Rangers men in murder case
KARACHI: Two eyewitnesses of the gruesome murder of an unarmed youth recorded their statements before a judicial magistrate on Wednesday and also attributed the role of seven suspects, including six personnel of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, in the killing.
The seven suspects — Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, Sepoy Mohammad Tariq, van driver Manthar Ali, Shahid Zafar, Afzal Khan and an employee of the park, Afsar Khan — have been arrested for the June 8 killing of Sarfraz Shah inside the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park.
A heavy contingent of police brought the seven suspects to the court of Judicial Magistrate (south) Nadim Badar Qazi on Wednesday.
Two eyewitnesses — a deputy district officer of the city government parks department and a cameraman of a private TV channel — recorded their testimony under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code.
Witness Abdul Rasheed testified that he was present at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park on June 8 in connection with the arrangements for a TV programme, which was scheduled to be shot there.
He said he saw a man collar a youth and haul him towards the food court area in the park at about 5pm. He pointed at the suspect, Afsar Khan, saying that he was the one who took the youth to Rangers personnel.
The witness testified that the Rangers personnel gathered around the youth and started shouting at the youth when he begged for mercy. He pointed at the suspect, Shahid Zafar, and deposed that he pushed down the youth who got up and approached him seeking pardon. But the official pushed him again and fired two shots at him, said Mr Rasheed.
The youth bled profusely and kept begging for mercy, asking the personnel to take him to a hospital, the witness testified, adding that he was so shocked to see the whole scene that he left the park and did not return that day.
He said he did not see any ambulance at the scene during his stay in the park.
The eyewitness also identified all the suspects and assigned their roles in the crime. The park official submitted that no incident of robbery or theft was reported at the park on June 8.
One of the suspects, Liaquat, asked the eyewitness as to why he had not rescued the young man. Upon which, he said that how could he save the youth when Afsar Khan had a pistol in his hand while all Rangers men were armed with rifles. The other eyewitness, Abdul Salam Soomro, appeared before the magistrate and testified that he was working as a cameraman with Awaz TV. On June 8, he said, he was in the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park to record a talk show.
He said one of the guests of the talk show informed him that he had seen a man beating up a youngster in the park and suggested that he film the scene. He said he followed them and recorded the whole incident.
Pointing at Afsar Khan, he identified him as the one beating up the youth and then handing him over to the Rangers. He said that the youth was pleading for mercy, but a Rangers man shot him twice with his rifle. He identified the suspect, Shahid Zafar, as the Rangers man who had fired at the youth.
He also identified the other five Rangers personnel present there at the time of the incident. The teenager, who had been shot in the limbs, writhed around on the ground in pain and requested the Rangers personnel to take him to a hospital, the cameraman said. The witness said that he did not see any ambulance there over the next 45 minutes during which he recorded the remaining part of the talk show.
He said when he returned to the studios he gave the recorded tape of the show and the shooting to the director news of the television channel and headed home.
Remand extended: The administrative judge of the anti-terrorism courts in Karachi on Wednesday extended the physical remand of six Rangers personnel and a civilian for two more days in the youth’s killing case.
The administrative judge had on Monday remanded the suspects in police custody till June 15 after the police had incorporated Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 in the FIR.
Special Prosecutor Arshad Iqbal Cheema told Dawn that the police produced the seven suspects before the administrative judge, Justice Maqbool Baqar of the Sindh High Court, and requested him to extend the police remand for two more days.
Mr Cheema said the police said they had to maintain record, fingerprints, photographs and other personal details at the crime record office and requested the court to extend the remand.
He said that as the Supreme Court of Pakistan had asked the police to file a charge-sheet against the suspects in court within seven days, the administrative judge directed the police to submit the charge-sheet on June 17.
The prosecutor said the police informed the judge about the progress made in the course of the investigation that also included the recording of statements of two eyewitnesses under Section 164 of the CrPC.
Although the Rangers initially claimed that the youth was armed and gunned down in an encounter, the widely-televised footage showed unarmed Sarfraz Shah being killed and then left to die by the Rangers personnel.
The case (FIR 227/2011) was registered at the Boat Basin police station on a complaint of the victim’s brother, Saalik Shah, under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Later, Section 7 of the ATA, 1997 was incorporated in the FIR.