HYDERABAD: A disputed police encounter on Sunday in Jamshoro, in which four suspected robbers were shot dead, stirred ferocious protests, fight between two political groups and blockage of the Super Highway.
At least 15 other people were injured as the people of Shoro community, who lost their men, forced the markets to shut in the Kotri taluka of Jamshoro. Among them was Haji Jainu, who was hit by a bullet. The violence later descended into a fight between workers the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML- N).
The men armed with sticks stormed through the markets in different areas of the town. They also staged sit-ins outside the SSP office, Kotri police station and the railway crossing. Later around 4 pm, more than 200 people blocked the highway while thousands of large and small vehicles travelling between Karachi and Hyderabad were queued up on the road.
The police said that the robbers were looting a 10-wheeler truck carrying chickpea bags on the Super Highway, 12 to 15 kilometres off the Hyderabad toll plaza. They were shifting the bags from the truck bearing registration number K-9805 on to another smaller (Shahzore) truck. The incident happened in limits of the Luni Kot police station but the encounter was carried out by the Kotri police.
“As soon as our mobile approached them, the dacoits opened fire and fled the scene in their truck,” said DSP Abdul Ghafur Lakho. “But the truck overturned and they started to run while firing shots on the police.” The alleged robbers were reportedly killed in the ensuing exchange of fire in which the DSP himself and a police driver, Abdul Khaliq, were also injured. The police claims to have found a Kalashnikov and three pistols in possession of the suspects.
This account, however, was rejected by the Shoro community, who belong to the Dabu Shoro village in Kotri’s Site area. They say that their men were innocent labourers and the police killed them without a reason. “We demand justice from the government. All the policemen who killed our people should be arrested and punished,” demanded Mehboob Shoro, Shahid Shoro and others who led the protesters at the highway.
The PPP’s MPA Dr Sikandar Shoro, also the elected representative of Kotri, reached the site to assure the protestors that an inquiry would be initiated. But the protesters called off the protests only after they received a copy of an FIR registered against the policemen involved.
He informed the media that he has also requested the Sindh chief minister (CM), Qaim Ali Shah, for a judicial inquiry into the incident. “Even if the suspects were involved in the robbery, they should have been arrested rather than killed,” said the MPA.
The reportedly took notice of the incident and ordered a judicial inquiry.
Meanwhile, the PML-N leaders of Kotri accused the Shoro people of attacking their men for making arrangements for an upcoming party public meeting. “The PPP workers injured seven of our men in the attack,” alleged advocate Irfan Ali Bughio, the divisional general secretary of the party. He complained that the police was not registering an FIR against the Shoros because they are workers of the PPP.
Earlier in the day, the police registered an FIR on the complaint of the truck’s driver, Muhammad Ameen. The four deceased suspects and five others who fled from the spot have been nominated.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.