GUJRANWALA - An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Saturday awarded two life-terms (50 years in total) and Rs200,000 fine to an 11-year boy for killing an under-trial prisoner in court premises earlier this year.
Talking to the media, ATC judge Chaudhry Imtiaz Ahmed said that he handed Gohar Nawaz a 'very lenient and minimal' punishment for being a child.
Earlier in June, Hafiz Ghayas, a hand-cuffed prisoner, was leaving the court after a hearing when 11-year old Gohar Nawaz gunned him down. Ghayas was arrested on suspicion of killing Gohar's father due to personal enmity.
Gohar was subsequently arrested by the local police and a case was registered against him in the ATC.
Speaking to TV media after being arrested, the 11-year old said he wanted to avenge his father's death and the handgun he used for murder was purchased with merely 500 rupees.
A report published in Dawn said that the boy 'decided to take revenge and bought a pistol form a Pashto-speaking man who also trained him how to use it'. The minor further admitted that he brought the pistol inside the court in a ladies' handbag that was not frisked by the police.
Rights group for suo motu
The ATC's decision has shocked human rights groups in the country. Registering their protest against the decision, rights activist have asked the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani to take suo motu notice of the ATC verdict.
Speaking to Dawn.com, rights activist Ansar Burney called the decision an open violation of human rights and criticised the decision of hearing the case in the ATC instead of juvenile court.
He accepted that the child committed a crime but questioned the imprisonment term. "This kid has been sent to jail for 50 years…..he will definitely come out from there as a repeat offender or a terrorist," he said.
He said such verdicts will further tarnish Pakistan's image internationally.
Burney assailed the judicial system of the country saying, "Terrorists who should be severally punished are roaming freely while children are being sent to prisons by anti-terrorism courts."
Demanding of the chief justice to take suo motu on the matter, the right activist also urged for punishing the judge.
- Iqbal Mirza contributed to reporting from Gujranwala