KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday was informed that at least 773 people have died in targeted killings in the first six months of the current year with May being the bloodiest month.
A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Musheer Alam and Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, while deciding on a request for an urgent hearing of an application in a petition (CP-D1554) of 2009, also ordered issuance of notices to 54 SHOs of Karachi in whose jurisdiction most of the killings were recorded.
The hearing of the application was, however, fixed after summer vacations which will end in the first week of August.
Earlier, the bench heard the petitioner, Iqbal Kazmi, who maintained that 773 people have died in targeted killings so far this year. Giving the month-wise breakup, he submitted that 98, 115, 117, 165 and 182 people were killed in January, February, March, April and May, while 98 more were killed until June 20.
He also informed the bench that unidentified assailants had also attempted to kill him, but a police guard given to him opened fire, injuring the attacker who then escaped.
“I may also be killed in the next attempt,” he said, apprehending threats to his life and requesting the court to hear his petition filed in 2009 on day-to-day basis, so that targeted killings in Karachi can be brought to an end. Kazmi, who represents an NGO, filed the petition seeking an inquiry into the killings in Karachi as well as removing “no-go areas” and launching operation for the recovery of illegal weapons in the city. He put the figure of those killed in the first six months of 2009 at 450.
Referring to fragile peace in Karachi, he drew the attention of the court to incidents of August 2009. He said that 95 people were killed and 50 injured, while 65 vehicles and public properties were set ablaze in the days following the murders of MQM’s MPA Raza Haider and his guard on August 2, 2009.
Relying on Article 9 of the Constitution that guarantees protection to citizens and Article 4 which assures that every individual has the right to be dealt with in accordance with the law, the petitioner urged the court to order the production of reports of intelligence agencies working under the control of provincial and federal governments as well as ordering an inquiry based on these reports.
Sindh police, the main respondent in the case, had denied the figures provided by the petitioner and maintained that 159 people were killed in the first six months of 2009 and not 445. The Inspector General of Police and the city police chief maintained that more than 50 target killers have been apprehended.
However, the Rangers, shrugging off the responsibility of checking the movement of armed men and killings in Karachi, relegated themselves to a “supporting role” and maintained in their written reply that the petitioner has no grievances against them.
The petition is pending with the court since 2009 and on Tuesday an application was heard in the same petition as according to the petitioner, unabated killings in Karachi require the immediate intervention of the highest court of the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.