–Report claims Lyari ganglord passed on info of army installations to Iranian intelligence, killed at least 198 people on ‘ethnic and political grounds’
–Baldia factory fire JIT says incident was a ‘planned sabotage/terror activity’
KARACHI: The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report on Lyari ganglord Uzair Jan Baloch states that he passed on secret information regarding Pakistan Army installations to the Iranian intelligence and was behind a large number of targeted killings and politically motivated murders of rival gangsters and civilians.
The Sindh government made public the JIT reports of three high-profile cases — concerning Uzair Baloch, the Baldia factory fire incident and former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai — after much controversy and litigation in courts on Monday.
The three JIT reports were uploaded to the website of the Sindh home department and elicited varied responses from different political parties.
The six-member JIT formed by the Sindh government in February 2016 to interrogate Baloch, comprising representatives of security and intelligence agencies, unanimously declared him as “black”, finding that Baloch along with his gang members was involved in a large number of murders/targeted killings of his rivals and innocent citizens including ethnic and “politically motivated killings”.
“The accused has accepted his criminal acts before JIT and co-related all his actions with actual criminal happenings on [the] ground,” the report said of the chief of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee (PAC). He also martyred several police and Rangers personnel and attacked police stations.
In total, Baloch “confessed” to killing 198 people on ethnic and political grounds and owing to gangwar rivalry, according to the report. It revealed that Baloch, 42, told the investigators that he and his accomplices killed 11 traders of the Shershah junk market in 2010 because they were “sympathisers” of a political party and gave extortion to that party.
He also admitted that in order to take revenge of the killing of his father, he kidnapped his rival gang leader Arshad Pappu and two others with the help of certain police officers and murdered them brutally. In addition to the murders, the JIT said Baloch was also involved in extortion, land grabbing, China-cutting and narcotics trafficking.
Another revelation in the report was regarding Baloch’s alleged espionage activities. Baloch disclosed that he obtained a fake birth certificate of Iran in the late 1980s with the help of his aunt, who was a dual Pakistan-Iranian citizen, and in 2006 managed to obtain his Iranian identity card and passport. In 2014, when Baloch was residing with a friend in the Iranian port city of Chabahar, one Haji Nasir offered to arrange a meeting between Baloch and Iranian intelligence officers.
A meeting with one such intelligence officer was subsequently arranged in which Baloch “was asked to provide certain information about armed forces officials […] besides general security environment of the city”, the report said. “The accused is found involved in espionage activities by providing secret informations/sketches regarding Army installations and officials to foreign agents (Iranian intelligence officers) which is a violation of Official Secrets Act, 1923,” the JIT wrote in its findings.
It also revealed that Baloch has a large number of assets in Pakistan and Dubai, managed through black money, and laundered huge amounts of money through his henchmen. While being involved in illegal purchases of weapons and explosives, he under the cover of the PAC “made Lyari his own state and put the entire city in a state of fear”, the JIT noted.
The probe team recommended that criminal proceedings should be initiated against Baloch in the light of his disclosures and challans of the cases in which he was nominated be submitted in courts. It said some of the crimes confessed to by him are cognisable before the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investigation Agency and Anti-Encroachment Cell, therefore Baloch and other accused should be handed over to these agencies for legal action.
The JIT said it was “strongly recommended” that Baloch be tried under the Pakistan Army Act for his espionage activities. Last month, Karachi prison authorities had disclosed before an antiterrorism court that a military court had sentenced Baloch to 12 years’ rigorous imprisonment in April this year after convicting him of spying for foreign countries.
The report stated that certain other offences that Baloch was accused of needed “further probe” as and when fresh incriminating evidence surfaced.
The Sindh government had announced on Friday that it would make the three JIT reports public by the ongoing week but challenged minister Ali Zaidi to point to any disclosure in the documents that might prove the involvement of top PPP leaders in criminal activities.
Only last week, the provincial authorities had informed the Sindh High Court that they had challenged its order to make public the three JIT reports before the Supreme Court. This had come in response to a petition of PTI leader Ali Zaidi seeking to make public all three reports. He had petitioned the high court in 2017 and submitted that these JIT reports contained startling disclosures about the involvement of politicians in crimes such as murder and extortion.
BALDIA FACTORY FIRE:
A different nine-member JIT came to the conclusion that the horrific Baldia factory fire in 2012 was not an accident but a “planned sabotage/terror activity” in which 259 workers were burnt alive.
The arson was carried out over the non-payment of Rs200 million extortion and refusal to agree to a partnership in factory profits, the report said. It held the then head of MQM’s Karachi Tanzeemi Committee, Hammad Siddiqi, and Rehman Bhola responsible for the tragedy.
The JIT was also critical of the initial police investigation into the case and observed that police dealt with it in an unprofessional manner and in a way that benefited “the offenders” instead of the victims for some “motives and gains”. It said “fear and favour” were the dominating factors in the initial investigation, which affected the “length and breadth” of the police performance. The investigation team suggested that a fresh first information report (FIR) be filed under terrorism charges against the eight accused, including Hammad Siddiqi.