Age of victim:
Date of incident: 2021-11-08
Designation: Sub Editor, Columnist
Incident Description: Shot dead by unidentified gunmen
Location: Sakhakot, Malakand, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Cause of Death: Shot dead
Summary of case
On November 8, 2021, social media activist and Sada-e-Malakand Sub Editor Muhammad Zada Agra was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Sakhakot, Malakand, in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The attackers managed to escape after committing the crime.
In his writings and commentaries, Agra kept raising the issues of the local drug mafia, corruption, and lawlessness of the local administration in Malakand. He accused the local police and the administration of patronizing drug dealers in the community meeting of the deputy commissioner.
Before his death, in a recent meeting, Agra had blamed the then Malakand District Commissioner Altaf Shaikh for the disturbing situation in the area. Sada-i-Malakand Editor Gohar Rehman told PPF that the journalist had received threats after this but had continued to write against all mafias in the newspaper and on his social media accounts.
In a Facebook post on October 12, 2021, Agra had nominated Shaikh for any mishap with him and alleged that the deputy commissioner was trying to harass him.
Sada-i-Malakand Editor Rehman strongly condemned the act and termed it an act against freedom of expression.
Agra was a passionate and brave journalist who raised his voice despite knowing he would face the consequences, Rehman said, adding that the slain journalist had received threatening calls from unknown numbers several times, but he never stopped writing about the illegal activities in the area, especially against the drug and land mafia.
Swat Press Club former president and senior journalist Shehzad Alam told PPF that Agra was very active on social media and used to post about the illegal activities taking place in Malakand on his Facebook page.
Alam said that a speech by Agra against drug smugglers in a meeting had gone viral.
“He can be seen as very passionate about solving the area’s problems in the video,” he added.
Swat Press Club President Muhammad Mehboob and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists President Shehzada Zulfiqar condemned the killing of the journalist and demanded a fair investigation.
Protests following his killing demanded the arrest of the then-deputy commissioner.
On November 15, 2021, the Malakand Police arrested two men in connection to his murder. At a press conference, Malakand Deputy Commissioner Anwarul Haq said that the murder weapon and a motorcycle had been seized from the suspects.
“The men confessed to the crime during preliminary investigations,” he revealed. “They work for a drug mafia. The police have arrested 30 drug dealers from the district. An operation is underway to crack down against others as well.”
The then KP Chief Minister, Mahmood Khan, removed the accused deputy commissioner Malakand and assistant commissioner Fawad Khatak from their posts. The CM also sought a report of the incident from the provincial Inspector General of Police and directed immediate steps to arrest the culprits.
Four arrests concerning Zada’s murder have occurred — Muhammad Zubair, Muhammad Dawood, Rasheed Ahmed, and Nisar Muhammad.
Agra’s brother Muhammad Jalal told PPF that the case is still in the Malakand district court. Jalal said that two accused – Muhammad Zubair and Muhammad Dawood – had been arrested while two — Nisar Muhammad and Rasheed Ahmed — had been granted pre-arrest bail.
There was no update in the last court hearing on May 13, 2023.
Agra’s legal representative Shahid Usmand told PPF that the assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner were suspended for two weeks. After two weeks, they were reassigned to their duties in different districts.
Was case investigated: Yes
Name of accused in FIR: Unidentified Persons
Was FIR registered: Yes
Status of court case: Under investigation
Attack suspected by: Unknown
Court where case was presented: Anti-Terrorism Court Swat