Pakistan: Fugitive cop Rao Anwar arrested in extra-judicial killing of youth

Several warnings were issued to the cop allegedly involved in extra-judicial killings to appear in supreme court

Islamabad: The most sought-after police official, who is allegedly involved in several extrajudicial killings including that of Naqeebullah Mehsud, was finally arrested Wednesday following his surrender to the Supreme Court.

Former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rao Anwar, who was suspended on January 20 over charges of killing a Pashtun youth, Naqeebullah, in Karachi, suddenly appeared in the Supreme Court of Pakistan after weeks of hiding.

Anwar was accused of killing Naqeebullah Mehsud in a ‘fake police counter’ on January 13. The 27-year-old’s death sparked off massive protests by social media activists followed by demonstrations by Mehsud tribe leaders and Pashtun youth leaders in Karachi, Islamabad and FATA.

Thereafter, Supreme Court took a suo moto notice and ordered immediate arrest of Rao Anwar and other police officers accused of extra judicial killing who had went into hiding. He was last seen at Islamabad airport on January 23 trying to flee the country on a Dubai-bound flight before he was stopped by immigration officials.

The Court issued several warnings to the absconding police official to appear before court and even allowed him an opportunity of his defence. However, Rao did not appear in Court but remained in communication with judiciary and offered to surrender. Later on, Supreme Court seized his bank account and withdrew a pre-arrest bail request.

On March 21, Rao Anwar finally appeared before the three-judge bench hearing the case against Mehsud’s murder. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar immediately ordered the arrest of the police official.

“Take Rao Anwar into custody,” the CJP said, rejecting Anwar’s request for a protective bail. CJP also ordered the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) headed by Sindh Police’s Additional IG Aftab Pathan and comprising four senior officers of Sindh Police to probe the case. The court also ordered authorities to unfreeze Anwar’s bank accounts so “his children” won’t face financial problems.

Following the Court directions, Anwar was arrested from outside the court by the Islamabad Police and taken to the heavily protected Diplomatic Enclave. He was later transferred to the Sindh Police’s custody which will transport him to Karachi.

On January 13, the Waziristan native Naqeebullah Mehsud and three others were killed in a fake police encounter led by then-SSP Malir Anwar in the southern city of Karachi. Police initially claimed that the deceased was affiliated with militants but the probe committee report by police officers found that the youth was innocent and his death was an extrajudicial killing.

The extrajudicial killing sparked national outrage and also raised doubts over police encounters. A report by the National Commission for Human Rights claimed that at least 444 people were killed in 192 encounters conducted by former SSP Rao Anwar in Karachi.


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