Court rejects suspect’s bail plea in relics smuggling case
By: Zaib Azkar Husain
Karachi: Judicial Magistrate (East) Haleem Ahmed on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of one of the three suspects facing charges of being involved in a bid to smuggle precious Gandharan relics out of the country.
Commenting on the bail plea of Asif Majeed, the judge remarked that it would not be proper to grant him bail at a time when the trial was in its initial phase. At a previous hearing, the court had ordered the investigation officer to send the three men, Asif Majeed, Zafar and Tahir Bukhsh, to prison in judicial custody.
On July 6 Awami Colony police had apprehended Zafar and Majeed, the driver and cleaner of a trailer-mounted container, after they intercepted the vehicle and found hundreds of 2,000-year-old artefacts packed in boxes. The artefacts were being transported to Sialkot for being smuggled out of the country by land.
Acting on information provided by the two suspects, the police later arrested another suspect, Tahir Bukhsh. Last week he moved a bail application, and the court reserved its ruling. The owners of the trailer, Atif Butt and Asif Butt, have obtained pre-arrest bail from the appellate court on the grounds that the police could arrest and torture them. The applicants have claimed to be law-abiding citizens.
Officials from the Sindh archeology department have documented and tagged over 390 relics lying at the police station. The relics include life-size statues of the Gautama Buddha, statues and utensils. However, concerns are growing about the safety of the relics, some of which are reported to have been stolen from the police station.
On Tuesday the archeology department’s director, Qasim Ali Qasim, filed an application with the court of Judicial Magistrate (East) Haleem Ahmed, requesting that his department be given the custody of the relics. He said that the relics were unsafe at the police station.