Karachi: The curious case of 35 absconders on parole
KARACHI: The 35 “absconding” under-trial prisoners that the Supreme Court wants arrested were all released on parole by the Sindh government almost nine years ago – within a four–month period from August 7, 2003, to November 20, 2003. On November 3, the apex court in its eight-page dossier on the implementation of Karachi violence case had directed all the trial courts concerned to issue non–bailable warrants against the suspects released despite their involvement in heinous crimes. The judges had expressed their utter shock when they came to know that over the years the Sindh government had released 193 convicted and 35 under-trial prisoners from different prisons of the province. The Sindh police chief and home departments were also ordered to ensure their arrest and present them before the courts.
The case goes back to the reign of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf when the suspected criminals were released by the Sindh home department on “temporary parole” during the rule of former chief minister Ali Muhammad Mahar, who held the office from December 2002 to June 2004.
Though Mahar denied releasing any criminals on parole in his tenure in a press statement issued on Saturday, official documents available with The Express Tribune contradict his claim. The documents bearing details of the 35 under–trial prisoners confirm that they were released on temporary parole under the orders of Sindh home department vide Order No. SO(PRS-IDL/HD/9-28-2003 during Mahar’s tenure.
All these suspected criminals are said to be political activists and the cases against them were registered between 1995 and 2002, mostly at the police stations on the outskirts of Karachi.
Initially, the suspects were set free on temporary parole but later their parole was extended up to December 29, 2005, following which they were released only to be reported as “missing” by the police. Fourteen of the 35 under–trial prisoners were released on a single day – August 7, 2003.
Many of these ‘hardcore criminals’ escaped abroad shortly after their release while a few of them have died, a senior police officer privy to the matter told The Express Tribune. “They were released on the recommendations of their party.”
Against these 35 suspected criminals, 68 cases, including murder, attempt to murder, police encounter, kidnapping, riots and possession of illegal weapons, were registered at 16 police stations of the city. The police stations where these suspects were booked include Orangi Town, Mominabad, Pirabad, Baldia Town, Saeedabad, Korangi, Zaman Town, Landhi, Quaidabad, Ibrahim Hyderi, Baloch Colony, Mehmoodabad, Garden, Sharifabad and Artillery Maidan.
With 21 of the 68 FIRs lodged there, the Mominabad police station was on the top, followed by the Korangi police with 18 FIRs and Orangi Town with 13 FIRs. Three cases were registered with Saeedabad police station, two each at Baldia Town and Garden police stations, and one each at Pirabad, Sharifabad, Ibrahim Hyderi, Mehmoodabad, Baloch Colony, Quaidabad, Landhi, Zaman Town and Artillery Maidan police stations.
Bails were granted to the suspects in only eight cases of the 68 registered. The remaining cases were pending before various judicial magistrates and additional district and sessions judges. Two cases against the absconders were also pending before anti–terrorism courts.
While most of the suspects were booked in one or two cases, two under–trial prisoners were facing charges on six different counts, including murder charges.