Social media users and relatives of a man who was killed in an allegedly staged encounter by police in Karachi last week have disputed the police claim that the deceased was a militant affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Naqeebullah, a 27-year-old man who hailed from South Waziristan, was allegedly among the four suspects who were killed in an ‘encounter’ carried out by SSP Malir Rao Anwar in Usman Khaskheli Goth on the outskirts of the metropolis last week.
Anwar had said at the time that the slain suspects were allegedly involved in several high-profile terror cases and had ties with terrorist outfits Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) and the militant Islamic State (IS). However, Naqeebullah was not mentioned by name then.
But a relative of Naqeebullah, whose name is written as Naseemullah on his identity card, disputed SSP Anwar’s claim that the slain man was a former commander of TTP in South Waziristan’s Makeen tehsil, saying the deceased was, in fact, a shop owner who was fond of modelling.
The relative, who did not wish to be named, told Dawn that Naqeebullah was allegedly taken away by men in plainclothes from his clothing shop in Sohrab Goth earlier this month. He said the deceased man previously worked at a petrol pump at Hub Chowki in Balochistan and “had no association with any militant outfit”.
The relative provided several photos of Naqeebullah and added that the deceased was fond of modelling, and not militancy. A Facebook page said to be Naqeebullah’s personal profile contains several public photos that appear to be taken during a modelling photo shoot. His name is spelt Naqib Maseed on that page and a second name ‘Veer’ appears in parentheses.
According to the relative, the family approached Chhipa Welfare Association on Wednesday, where they were handed over Naqeebullah’s body.
SSP Anwar claims deceased was a militant
SSP Anwar, however, maintained that Naqeebulah was involved in major acts of terror and was residing in an apartment on Abul Hassan Ispahani Road. Purportedly in an effort to support his claims, the SSP issued a document detailing Naqeebulah’s path to militancy.
According to the police officer, Naqeebulah was born on January 1, 1991, in a village of South Waziristan’s Makeen tehsil and received religious education from a madressah.
He was a brother-in-law of Sher Dawood, a commander of TTP who motivated him to join the banned outfit, the SSP said. He received physical and weapons training in 2007/2008 at a TTP camp in Miranshah.
Naqeebulah remained associated with TTP commander Sanaullah Mehsud, claimed SSP Anwar, who survived a “suicide attack” on Tuesday evening.
After a military operation was launched in the area in 2007, he along with an accomplice killed a Frontier Constabulary (FC) Subedar, Muhammad Alam because they suspected him to be an ‘informer’ against TTP militants.
Naqeebullah along with his brother-in-law and others allegedly carried out an attack on a military convoy in Makeen in which several soldiers were martyred.
“He was a close aide of a TTP commander, Wahab, who was involved in the bombing at Karsaz during slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto’s rally on October 18, 2007,” claimed SSP Anwar.
However, there was no official confirmation of these allegations levelled by the SSP and his claims could not be independently verified immediately.
Social media reaction
After news emerged of his death, a large number of people posted condolence messages on his Facebook timeline, with some including photos of his body in a coffin.
On Facebook group Halaat Updates, where Karachiites discuss everything from electricity outages to open manholes, social media users accused SSP Anwar of allegedly staging fake encounters.
“Many black sheeps in police do fake encounters to get rewards and promotions,” wrote one user. Another wondered whether the man was killed “because he belonged to the tribal areas”.
One Facebook user posted a screenshot of his conversation with Naqibullah, in which the latter had reportedly wished that his son would join the Pakistan Army.
“This was a strange terrorist who wanted his son to become an army officer,” the user wrote ironically.
The ‘encounter specialist’
Rao Anwar, called the ‘encounter specialist’ by some, is known for carrying out ‘encounters’ of controversial nature against outlaws and has claimed in the past to have killed militants belonging to various terrorist organisations and the then-Mohajir Qaumi Movement activists during his raids.
The majority of such cases remained unquestioned, apart from the few where the families of those shot dead moved the court. -DN