KARACHI: After the police failed to trace and apprehend the suspect(s) involved in a spree of knife attacks against women in the city, a few women in Karachi have taken precautionary measures by carrying knives.
"I am not afraid of the knife man and will kill him if he tries to stab me," threatened N*, a middle-aged woman in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, while brandishing the knife she had hidden in her handbag. "Please don't be scared,” she told the women of Karachi. “If [you show fear] the attacker will become more confident. I have this knife because women are not lesser mortals and they can challenge their attackers," she said.
Another woman in Gulshan-e- Iqbal who works at a garment factory told the media that her husband handed her a knife and told her to challenge the attacker if she ever encounters him.
"I am not afraid of a cowardly man who attacks women just to get publicity," she said.
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Twelve-year-old M* is a school student and said apart from books and pens, she carries a knife in her bag. "My mother asked me to keep it with me as a precautionary measure," she said. "I don't know exactly what I have to do it though. Whether I am able to retaliate or not is irrelevant. I can at least show it to the attacker to scare him,” she said.
So far at least 13 women have been injured in several incidents in parts of District East - Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Dalmia, Rashid Minhas Road, Pehlwan Goth and PIB Colony - since the incidents began on September 25. The police have also issued the suspect's picture with brief details about his appearance multiple times, seeking help from the citizens to capture him. They have also announced a reward of Rs1 million for anyone who helps the police trace and arrest the attacker.
Though the police have not been successful in apprehending the main suspect, Karachi police chief Mushtaq Mahar has formed teams comprising police personnel to hunt the attacker or attackers.
Police said that while 13 incidents have occurred, only 10 cases have been registered.
"There is a heavy deployment of uniformed and plainclothes officers in the entire neighbourhood," said District East SSP Samiullah Soomro. "Our effective actions forced him [the attacker] to stop his criminal activities," he claimed, adding that the police have enhanced their intelligence network based on plainclothes personnel and informers to trace and arrest the suspect.
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"So far we believe that only one suspect is behind the series of attacks and is frequently changing his getup in order to dodge the police," explained SSP Soomro. "The main reason why we have failed to arrest him so far is that none of the victims saw his face because he always wore a helmet. Lack of closed-circuit television camera footage also contributed to this, as the attacker chose the darkest areas to stab women in."
On Friday a married woman was injured in a mysterious incident in District Central, with many claiming she was the attacker’s 14th victim. The woman, 49, is a resident of Kauser Niazi Colony and was brought to a private hospital after she was injured.
The incident occurred in North Nazimabad Block-F, near alFateh Park within the limits of Hyderi police station. Initially, it was reported that the woman was a victim of knife attacker, however, later the police denied the news, stating that the woman was injured in a road mishap after being hit by a speeding motorcycle.
But the case took a u-turn after the medical report suggested that while the woman did not bear knife injuries, she also had no injuries consistent with a vehicular accident. North Nazimabad DSP Naeem Khan said that the police are investigating and trying to ascertain the actual nature of the incident, adding that they will record the woman's statement again and look for CCTV footage.
*Names withheld to protect privacy