A second suspect has been arrested in connection with the grisly murder of Nasreen whose body was found in March chopped up into pieces and scattered around the city in blue plastic bags.
On Thursday, the police arrested rickshaw driver, Athar alias Pappu, between Jamshed Quarters and Brigade jurisdictions, after someone tipped them off from the earlier arrest of Rafique, according to SSP East Khadim Hussain Rind.
The police have declared the group of men a gang of serial killers that is “trying to spread panic and terror in an attempt to destabilise the city and the country” and the two suspects are being linked with Nasreen’s murder as well as that of two other women whose bodies who were found butchered in the same manner.
The police arrested the suspect, established guilt by extracting a confession, presented him in front of the media and labelled it a national conspiracy, all within the span of two hours.
Rind says the suspects have confessed that they’ve been killing these women because of disputes over money. But he also admits that this motive is hard to digest.
The suspect himself spoke to members of the media at the Ferozebad police station.
“My friend Mazhar knew the woman and I have been friends with Mazhar for two months, I didn’t cut up her body but I helped,” said Athar adding that who said he was ashamed of his mistake. “We had settled on a price of 1,500 rupees but got into an argument and we killed her.”
The suspect’s story differed twice during questioning when he later said that they used to run up bills with a sex worker and when it would accumulate beyond their means they would kill the woman. He contradicted the financial motive by saying at one point that they did it “out of anger”.
Rafique, who was caught earlier, initially had a different story, saying that he was killing the women because they were spreading “immorality” in society.
SHO Humayun, who is taking part in the investigation, was asked why the stories were so different. “The stories are the same but we have had only two hours with the suspects and we will investigate further,” he said, to which a journalist quipped, “matlab hai ke yeh bhi maan le gaa” (Even the second one will confess) to which the SHO nodded in agreement.
The investigation was in its infancy when the police brought the suspect in front of the public. An SHO in the Sindh police told The Express Tribune that the reason that a lot of murder cases get confessions is because many times the suspects have psychological problems and they want to be known for the murder. He added that two hours was quite quick to verify a confession but said that the police do add up the details of the confession and crosscheck it with the other details and evidence of the case to verify its authenticity.
SSP Rind and the suspect both corroborate that a third man named Mazhar was involved in the killings but the police have yet to determine any motive justifying the label of “serial killer”. This usually applies to someone who kills for psychological gratification, not over monetary disputes. The one element this case does share with other serial killer cases is the sexual element.
According to Rind, the killers would pick up women in their rickshaw from Mazar-e-Quaid and other places where couples meet and would take them back to a rented apartment. After conducting their business they would murder the women and then hack the body to pieces to dispose it off.
There are some women, the police say, who have managed to escape from the clutches of the gang but they are not willing to disclose their names as yet. Rind says the police may yet discover more bodies and possibly more accomplices in this case.
“We can’t just change people’s hearts or take away their mobile phones,” said Rind in response to a question about whether the police were watching sex workers in the city closely. “This is something that happens and all we can do is stop people and check for weapons and identity cards. With this activity, we often come across two consenting adults, so what can we do?”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.