Two years on, still no justice for Sabeen Mahmud

Her killers, who are on death row, have challenged their convictions

Faraz Khan April 25, 2017
A file photo of T2F founder late Sabeen Mahmud. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The second death anniversary of social activist and the founder of T2F Sabeen Mahmud was observed on Monday. It was on Friday, April 24, 2015 when armed gunmen travelling on a motorcycle shot Sabeen in her car near Defence Central Library moments after she had left T2F after attending a session. Her elderly mother was also wounded in the attack.

Sabeen, along with her mother, left the premises of T2F around 9pm, nearly an hour after the session had ended. Travelling in a white Suzuki Swift, they reached the Defence Central Library traffic light when armed motorcyclists intercepted them and opened fire. Sabeen, who received four bullet injuries, died on the spot, while her mother was critically injured.

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A police constable, Ghulam Abbas, who worked as Sabeen's driver and was a witness to her killing, was also shot dead in the city's Korangi area on September 7, 2015, less than five months after her murder.

Following the attack, an FIR was registered at the Defence police station under sections 302, 324 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

A breakthrough in Sabeen's murder case happened in June, 2015, when the police claimed to have busted a gang of militants that had attacked a bus transporting members of the Ismaili community near Safoora Goth. Some of the arrested gang members also confessed to their involvement in killing Sabeen because of 'her views about Lal Masjid's cleric Abdul Aziz, Valentine's Day and the burqa (veil)'.

The arrested suspects included Saad Aziz alias Tin Tin, Tahir Hussain Minhas alias Sain, Asadur Rehman alias Malik, Hafiz Nasir alias Yasir and Muhammad Azhar Ishrat alias Majid. They were tried by a military court, which subsequently awarded them the death penalty on charges that included Sabeen's murder. The then chief of army staff, General Raheel Sharif, on May 2016, signed the death warrants for the five 'hardcore terrorists'.

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Another member of the gang, Ali Rehman alias Tona, was arrested later and also awarded the death penalty after a military court trial.

"It was not easy to trace and arrest them but Allah made it possible," said Counter-Terrorism Department Incharge Raja Omar Khattab, who arrested Sabeen's killers. He added that the terrorists who killed Sabeen initially belonged to alQaeda but later developed differences with its ideology and wanted to join Da'ish.

Khattab said Saad Aziz and Ali Rehman had killed Sabeen and had been awarded the death sentence. "They have challenged their convictions. Let's see what becomes of their plea," he said.

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