MUZAFFARABAD: A member of the Islamabad Bar Association was among three suspects arrested by Mirpur police in connection with the murder of a Dadyal-based lawyer, planning for which was allegedly done from the United Kingdom (UK), a senior police official said on Monday.

Raja Irfan Saleem, senior superintendent of police (SSP) in Mirpur, recalled that two suspects masquerading as police officials had gunned down Advocate Waqar Altaf inside his house in Ban Sain neighbourhood of Dadyal on Sept 10. After committing the crime, the suspects fled from the scene on their motorcycle sans registration plate.

The blind murder had triggered severe panic in the entire area but police used the latest methods to unearth the suspects and eventually succeeded in nabbing three of the five-member gang, including the ringleader, within a week, he said, identifying the detained suspects as Bilal Ahmed, a member of the Islamabad Bar Association belonging to Sheikhupura, Hameedullah Khattak from Karak currently settled in Chauntra, Islamabad, and Hassan Ali Butt from Gujrat currently settled in Golra Mor, also in Islamabad.

Police had also recovered two 9MM pistols, a Honda 125 motorcycle, two police uniforms and a Toyota Corolla car registered in Islamabad which were used in the homicide, he said.

According to the SSP, investigations had revealed that there was a dispute between the slain lawyer and his elder siblings – UK-based Israr Altaf and Turkey-based Sikandar Altaf – over property and finances. Another sibling, Abdul Ghaffar, was on the side of Mr Waqar, he said.

SSP Irfan said the same group had shot and injured Mr Waqar on April 19 this year when he was on his way to the courts and had fled from the area via Kotli district.

Before the April 19 attempt on Mr Waqar’s life, the suspects had stayed for two days near his house at the under-construction bungalow of Mr Israr. They had also planned to kill Mr Ghaffar, but luckily he flew out of Pakistan before they could implement their plan, the SSP said.

According to Mr Irfan, advocate Ahmed who had purchased the pistols and motorcycle in his own name had received Rs2.3 million in three transactions from the UK for all three crimes.

On August 24 this year, Mr Ahmed had brought the other suspects in his car to Dadyal to reconnoitre the crime scene. On Sept 10, he sent Hameedullah to Dadyal on the bike and drove Hassan Butt, Hamza and Umar Jutt to Dadyal in his car where he handed over police uniforms and weapons to two of them to carry out the assassination, the SSP said.

After the crime, both killers changed police uniform and hid weapons in Mr Ahmed’s car and disappeared from the area. Mr Ahmed was himself wearing a black coat and had placed some files in his car as well, so as to give an impression that he was visiting the area in connection with his profession.

The SSP said the suspects had also planned to kill Mr Waqar’s wife but could not carry out their plan.

During investigations, police had obtained the record of text messages from Mr Ahmed’s mobile phone sent and received to and from the UK numbers regarding planning of the murder.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2022

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