Two policemen, a police officer’s brother and one informer linked to the investigations into Geo reporter Wali Khan Babar’s murder on January 13 have been methodically targeted over four months.
Wali Khan Babar was shot dead in Liaquatabad No. 1 near the Apwa school as he was going home from office. The Special Investigation Unit was tasked with the case.
“All four victims are linked to the case,” said a police officer who did not want to be named because of the inherent dangers in investigating the case. Even the Karachi chief of police, Saud Mirza, admitted in a press conference on April 7 that there was a problem. “There are threats to the lives of the investigators of this case,” he said, “but we are making arrangements for the foolproof security of these officers.” At the press conference, the police announced that five men had been taken into custody.
The first victim was Rajab Ali Bengali, a police informer, who was found dead, his body in a sack, on January 29 in Gulshan-e-Iqbal No. 6. The police found in his pocket a slip of paper with the name of head constable Arshad ‘Kundi’ written on it. The note said that Kundi would be “next”. An officer involved in the investigation explained that HC Kundi was linked to the Babar case as he was taking information from Bengali and was giving it to TPO Liaquatabad Naveed Khwaja.
The second victim was police constable Asif Rafiq who was killed in a drive-by shooting by two men on a motorcycle on his way home to Liaquatabad’s police lines on January 31. He was linked to the case as he had identified the vehicle Babar’s attackers used. He was at the spot at the time of the murder and noted down its registration number.
The third victim was head constable Arshad Kundi (linked to victim No. 1). On March 19, he was shot dead in a drive-by attack by two men on a motorcycle in Sohrab Goth. He worked with the Gulshan-e-Iqbal investigations police.
The fourth victim, Naveed Khan, was the brother of SHO Supermarket Shafiq Tanoli, who was part of the investigations. Naveed Khan was shot dead on April 7, the same day chief of police Saud Mirza gave a press briefing on the Wali Khan Babar case. “This was done to pressure me,” Tanoli has told journalists, while referring to the Wali Khan Babar case.
He told The Express Tribune on Friday: “I was a member of the team formed with the TPO Liaquatabad to investigate this case. We arrested an important suspect from the Punjab. Aside from this, there was no other reason why someone would target my family. We’ve looked at all other possibilities.”
The SIU’s joint interrogation team has concluded that Babar was followed soon after he left his office at Shaheen Complex that day. One of the arrested men is alleged to have told the police that he was given information from the office that Babar had left the building.
On April 7, the police chief announced that five men involved in target killings, including Babar’s murder were arrested. The men were identified as Faisal Mehmood, Muhammed Ali Rizvi, Muhammad Shahrukh Khan, Syed Tahir Naveed Shah and Muhammed Shakeel. They were arrested from Gulshan-i-Iqbal.
At least 17 to 18 men were involved in the journalist’s murder, and Faisal ‘Mota’ was the mastermind, while three other accused men are still missing. The murder was planned in KBR Colony at Mota’s house for January 12. After they failed to locate Babar, they followed him from his office and intercepted him near Apwa College.
“Babar was killed for his daring reporting about target killers, land grabbers and drug peddlers,” said the CCPO. The men are hardened criminals and involved in other target killings, but we are not sure of their political affiliations, added Mirza.
On April 9, the five men were remanded to the custody of the SIU till April 18.
The police claimed to have found a Suzuki Cultus, registration number ADZ- 301, which was used by the alleged killers. It was this car that helped the police find the main culprit in the case, Liaquat, who is allegedly a city government employee.
Murtaza Khan Babar, the victim’s brother, told The Express Tribune that they could not comment on the case until the challan was presented. “We want justice,” he said. “Wali Babar won’t come back but at least if the culprits are punished this won’t happen again.”
He is disappointed with the reaction from the ‘leaders’ of the Pakhtuns. “They used to first sell water and petrol and now they are selling our blood,” he said, adding that none of them had come to even condole.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2011.