After running around in circles and begging the family for the CCTV footage, the police finally had a breakthrough in the former income tax commissioner’s murder case.
They learnt that Mumtaz Sheikh, who was shot dead in his car on his way to work on Thursday morning, was most likely targeted because of his relationship to Ali Hasan Brohi, an alleged land grabber – his son-in-law.
Brohi, who was once booked for drug possession but released on bail, married Sheikh’s daughter Samina, a lawyer, last year. As expected, Samina was handling all her new husband’s cases after they tied the knot.
According to the police, Samina told them that they [Brohi and Samina] had received death threats and were attacked recently. Fearing for his life, Brohi quietly went to Dubai while Samina remained behind to clear his name. Investigators suspect that Sheikh, who was a strong support system for his daughter, became an easy target for Brohi’s enemies.
Once the investigation team led by District South DIG Mushtaq Maher learnt about the family’s connection with Brohi they immediately realised that something was fishy.
“At first, we thought that Brohi must have had his father-in-law killed. He is a very powerful and influential man,” said a police officer on the investigation team. “However, we later learnt that Brohi was in a mess himself. The family claims that he used to be in favour with a powerful family but that all changed once they had an argument. His wife believes that the head of that family had Brohi implicated in a fake narcotics case.”
Initially, the family was hesitant about sharing details with the police – they did not even let them check the CCTV footage for evidence. DSP Sheraz Asghar Sheikh told The Express Tribune that the police had approached the family for the footage but they kept putting it off by saying that they did not have the code or there was a technical fault. However, after repeated requests, when the authorities finally got hold of the footage, they discovered it was blank. A source claims that all six cameras in Sheikh’s house were on pause and did not record anything. This causes a problem for the police as they will now not be able to develop a sketch of the suspects. Sheikh’s driver, who was held at gunpoint when the incident took place, gave a statement but claimed that he could not see the suspect’s face.
One of the investigators told The Express Tribune that Sheikh’s case was similar to that of Khalid Shahenshah’s murder. He was shot dead in Clifton in 2008 and the murder weapon was also a Kalashnikov. They claimed that a car was also used. Shahenshah was known for leading former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s security protocol and was a key witness in her murder investigation. He was also the chief of security at Bilawal House. For the investigators, these similarities stuck out as in routine hits, the suspects usually use 9mm pistols and are on a motorcycle.
In Sheikh’s case, the police also learnt that the grey Cuore which was used by the suspects did not have a number plate but a sign which read ‘applied for registration’.
SHO Ismail Lashari said that during the initial course of investigation, they got hold of Sheikh and the driver’s calling data record but it was not useful. SHO Lashari added that they were questioning Sheikh’s neighbours but no one was cooperating. “Except for the driver, we have no eye-witness accounts,” he said.
When contacted by The Express Tribune, Sheikh’s other son-in-law Pir Aman said that the family was waiting for the police to complete their investigation to find out who did it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2012.