Pak Tribune : Clue found to Rashid’s escape

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Clue found to Rashid’s escape

December 18, 2007

ISLAMABAD: Investigative agencies have found a clue to the high-profile escape of Rashid Rauf, linking Tufail, one of the two head constables escorting Rashid Rauf to court, and his uncle Muhammad Rafiq, reliable sources told media on Monday.

Call records of Head Constable Tufail showed that he was in touch with Rafiq, sources disclosed, adding they had contacted each other before Rashid Rauf fled from police custody. Investigations revealed that two of Rashid’s relatives -- Rafiq and Zahoor -- were present in the court at the time of hearing. Zahoor left the court premises around 1230 hrs, while Rafiq stayed on till the end of hearing. Sources said Rashid Rauf was being taken back to Adiala jail by head constables Tufail and Nawabzada in a private vehicle of Rafiq (Mitsubishi Station Wagon silver colour) bearing registration No: JM-2071, instead of a prison van.

Guards reportedly unlocked his handcuffs and had lunch at McDonald’s at Jinnah Park, Rawalpindi near district courts. On way to Adiala jail, Rashid Rauf asked his guards to let him say afternoon prayers at a mosque located at Gulshan-e-Abad, ultimately giving him an opportunity to escape.

Rashid Rauf was booked under 3-MPO and kept in Adiala jail, awaiting a decision on a British extradition request. He left the UK in 2002 after allegedly stabbing his uncle to death and was wanted by British authorities in the murder case.

Both head constables started a search for him on their own without reporting to the authorities about the incident. At 1630 hours, Adiala jail, including Hawalat, gave a clear report, without mentioning the disappearance of Rashid Rauf. At 1800 hours, both head constables after failing to find whereabouts of Rashid Rauf reported to the Margalla police station that a person namely Rashid Rauf had fled from their custody.

At 2100 hrs, the SSP received a call from the Adiyala jail superintendent, who informed him about the escape of Rashid Rauf. Sources said the Rawalpindi district jail superintendent had asked police authorities in categorical terms through a “Most Urgent Fax’ No: 39212, dated Dec 10 and endorsement No: 39213-15, cautioning and asking for enhanced security for Rashid Rauf during his hearing on Dec 15 with the Subject ‘Provision of Special Police Guard for the production of detenue Rashid Rauf, son of Abdul Rauf on Dec 15”.

ASI Junaid, who had taken Rauf to courts earlier, was also taken into custody along with Zahoor for investigation. “This was a clear violation of Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) of Handling Prisoners,” intelligence agency sources averred. Agencies add: Meanwhile, taking strict notice of escape of Rashid Rauf, President Pervez Musharraf has ordered the interior ministry to present him a report of the incident immediately and take all-out measures for his re-arrest.

Caretaker Information Minister Nisar A Memon, while addressing a group of journalists, on Monday termed the escape of terror suspect Rashid Rauf from police custody “human failure”, stressing that this incident should not be dubbed as a government failure.