KARACHI: Thirteen-year-old L* was a mere 20 feet from her family, near her home, when a tall, slim man wearing white shalwar kameez approached her on his motorcycle, stabbed her and escaped.
L is the one of the latest victims in a series of attacks on women in Karachi, particularly in parts of Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal, which have stumped the entire police force.
But L’s attack left the police puzzled, as it was different from the previous ones reported in the area. Investigators suspect that a copycat may have attacked the young girl, as they believe that the main serial attacker usually wears jeans and a shirt with a helmet to cover his face and is between 25 and 30 years old. His height has been estimated at between 5’7 and 5’9 and he usually rides a red motorcycle. They believed he was the sole attacker behind most of the attacks.
“It would be too terrible if other people join him or starts such activities,” fretted PIB Colony SHO Safdar Mashwani. “But it seems that the man who attacked L was not the same as the other attacker, as he wore shalwar kameez, no helmet and had a different body type.”
L came under attack at around 11:45pm on Wednesday night in Bajauri Muhalla in PIB Colony. Usually, the previous incidents occurred in one side of Gulshan-e-Iqbal - Rashid Minhas Road, Dalmia and Gulistan-e-Jauhar – but this incident occurred on the opposite side of the locality.
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“It was getting dark and we were walking home when my daughter was stabbed in her shoulder,” said L’s father. “It happened so quickly. Before we could understand what happened or do anything, the man had escaped.” In some cases, the victims attempted to catch the attacker but unfortunately the man, known as ‘chalawa’ has not been caught so far.
H, who works as a housemaid, was the first victim. She was attacked when she was returning from work in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. “He visited the street twice before attacking me but I didn’t notice as when he attacked me I had no idea,” she narrated. “I tried to catch him but he slashed my elbow to get away. I even shouted for help but before anyone could come he had fled.”
The arrest of the serial attacker or attackers has become a challenge situation for the Karachi police, since the first incident on September 26. Since then nearly a dozen similar cases have been registered. Though the investigators have recorded the statements of the victims, obtained the closed-circuit television footage and enhanced security measures such as increasing the network of plainclothes personnel, snap-checking and patrolling, officials have failed to trace and arrest the attacker. “In 10 days, more than a dozen women have become his victims,” said a senior police official privy to the matter. “It is an alarming situation for all of us as at least six women become victims in nearly one hour and we could not even trace him, despite increased snap-checking on the roads.”
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Officials said that most of the incidents occurred in the early and late evening. “He is not targeting women or girls belonging to one specific category - he is targeting all types of women. For him, every woman is a potential victim, he does not care if they belong to the upper or middle class,” he explained. Investigators say the attacker has managed to elude the police by changing his clothes or motorcycle cover twice since the series of attacks began. The police have yet to find clues about the motivation or identity of the attacker, who is still at large despite the police having detained over half-a-dozen suspects.
A 28-year-old woman is the latest victim to have been attacked by the motorcyclist. She was attacked near Pehlwan Goth in Gulistan-e-Jauhar late Thursday night. Initial reports stated that the same attacker was behind the incident.
Police said that in this instance the woman was attacked from the front, whereas the attacker’s modus operandi has always been to attack his victims from behind. Interestingly, the woman also attempted to catch the suspect, however, he attacked her again with a sharp-edged object and managed to escape. The woman was immediately taken to a nearby private hospital for treatment. The police have also obtained CCTV footage of the incident and initiated further investigations.
The recent attack has disproved the police’s claims of an intelligence network close to tracing and arresting the culprit.
*Names withheld to protect victims' identities