ISLAMABAD: Shahid Imran, a US-returned taxi driver in Abbottabad, was robbed of his car and brutally murdered by a gang in February 2008. Almost three years on, his family is still waiting for justice.
“We provided all the details that we could get on the gang members involved in his murder to the police, who no doubt greeted us well and heard our plea but to date have done nothing,” said Imran’s father Shahjahan Qureshi, a former employee of the US embassy in Islamabad.
With the help of a relative who works for a private telecom company, Imran’s family was able to get information about all the calls made and received from his mobile phone, which was in one of the gang members’ possession after the murder.
With this, they were able to pin-point the exact locations from where the phone was used -- Gujranwala, Gujrat and Kohistan.
With the help of some information from the National Database and Registration Authority, they were even able to draw sketches of the culprits. Despite all this, the police are, to date, clueless about the gang members’ whereabouts.
Imran was 42 years old when he was killed. According to his father, he had lived in New York City for eight years, where he drove a private taxi and provided conveyance services to a private company. He returned to Pakistan in 1996 after his visa expired.
On his return, he was unable to find adequate means of livelihood to support his family: a wife and four children. He tried his luck in various business ventures which did not take off, so he decided to buy his own car and use it to provide a private taxi service.
On February 20, 2008, Imran left home as usual at around 10am and did not return. Around midnight, the family began to get worried.
On February 23, they lodged a First Information Report against unknown people at the Cantonment Police Station, Abbottabad. On February 28, after taking a cue from a newspaper report about an unidentified corpse, Imran’s brother-in-law went to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) in Islamabad and identified the body.
“From there we came to know that the Shehzad Town police had found his body on February 21 from a building under construction in Sohan village and had taken it to Pims,” he explained.
According to the post-mortem report, Imran was strangled around midnight of February 20.
Next, his family went to the Shehzad Town Police Station to file a request for the arrest of the culprits but the then sub-inspector, Zafar Iqbal, turned them away on the excuse that the Station House Officer (SHO) was unavailable and asked them to come again within five to seven days. Later, however, they were told to go to Koral Police Station by Kamran Adil, who was Assistant Superintendent of Police at Shehzad Town at the time.
“Imran’s widow, Nazakat Bibi, even appealed to the Supreme Court and requested Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Khawaja Muhammad Sharif to take immediate notice of the incident and order the arrest of the culprits,” Qureshi said. But nothing happened.
The police are still to retrieve the car, which is the only source of income for the bereaved family.
Malik Aftab, who is the president of the All-Taxi Welfare Association, told The Express Tribune that about six to seven taxi drivers are murdered every year in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The culprits almost always get away scot free, he added. In his view, the situation is becoming worse due to the general deterioration of law and order in the country. He added that some criminals were running private taxis themselves for gang activities.
According to police records, about 40 drivers, including taxi drivers and drivers of private vehicles, were kidnapped for ransom from the twin cities in 2010. Two were murdered.
Farhat Abbas Kazmi, who is a superintendent of Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) told The Express Tribune that the ITP in collaboration with the Islamabad Transport Authority will soon start a campaign against people who are using private cars as taxis.
“There are about 22,000 private cars in the twin cities being used as taxis. Out of this only 4,000 are registered,” he said, adding that the lack of registered taxis raises obvious security concerns.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2011.
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