KARACHI: In yet another incident of police brutality, a man was killed and another injured as police officials opened fire on their car early Friday morning near Frere Hall.
The incident took place at around 4am on Fatima Jinnah Road when a police party fired on the victims’ car, a white Honda City bearing the registration number ATC-712, from a moving police mobile while patrolling. It was at least an hour later that the deceased, identified as 40-year-old Nabeel Hoodbhoy, son of Aziz Suleman, and the injured, Raza Imam, were shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.
Later, South District SSP Sheeraz Nazir, South Zone Investigation SSP Roy Aijaz, Saddar SP, Darakhshan SDPO Zahid Hussain and other police officials reached the site of the incident to further investigate the matter.
The officials accused of the offence, including Sub-Inspector Abdul Ghaffar, Head Constable Aftab and Constable Muhammad Ali Shah, have been booked in an FIR registered at the Artillery Maidan police station under Section 302 (punishment for murder), 324 (attempted murder), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and the 7-ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act).
According to SSP Nazir, the accused officials said during interrogation that they were patrolling in a mobile van belonging to the Gizri Police Station when they flagged down the victims’ car at Khayaban-e-Muhafiz in Defence Housing Authority. However, the car’s driver, instead of pulling over the vehicle, sped off, the accused officials disclosed in their initial statement, said the SSP.
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As per the police officials’ account, they chased the car after it sped off and opened fire on it as it approached Frere Hall on Fatima Jinnah Road.
However, the evidence suggests otherwise, SSP Nazir said. He elaborated that the car was found parked near a pavement, which implies that it was stopped before the police began shooting.
He said that the investigation conducted so far has revealed that Hoodbhoy and Imam were shot by a 9mm pistol. Hoodbhoy, who was sitting in the driving seat, was hit by a bullet in the neck which penetrated his body and exited from his shoulder, said the SSP, adding that the same bullet then hit Raza in the arm and remained lodged his armpit. The bullet is yet to be removed from the injured Raza’s body, he informed the media.
According to Nazir, the police officials fled the site after shooting down Hoodbhoy and Raza without informing the relevant authorities of the incident, not even reporting the incident to the police base. “The citizens who fell victim to their firing didn’t resist the attack as they didn’t have any weapons,” said the SSP, adding that “police officials are guilty of committing the offence.”
Meanwhile, Raza’s driver, who had reached the site along with Raza’s family after he called them, estimates that the victims were left wounded inside the car for almost an hour before police shifted them to the hospital. He said that after receiving Raza’s call and reaching the site, they found him and Hoodbhoy unattended inside the car.
The driver further revealed that Hoodbhoy and Raza were both businessmen and close friends and were returning home after meeting another close friend when the incident took place. “If they [police officials] wanted to stop them, they could have intercepted the vehicle or fired on the car’s tyres,” he lamented.
According to an acquaintance of Hoodbhoy, who asked not to be named, the deceased was unmarried and ran an import and export business. Both his parents are settled outside Pakistan, he said.
An FIR of the case has been registered on Raza’s behalf. According to Raza’s statement, he is a resident of Zamazam Apartments located on Fatima Jinnah Road. As per the FIR, Raza has said that he left Khayaban-e-Badar’s street no.26 along with Hoodbhoy, who lives in Abida Tower, in Hoodbhoy’s car around 3:05am. Police officials, who were checking vehicles on Khayaban-e-Mujahid and Khayaban-e-Hafiz, flagged down their car in which they had a beer can, the FIR quotes Raza.
As per Raza’s statement cited in the FIR, the police inquired about where he and Hoodbhoy were coming from at which they replied that they live near Cantt Station. The police then asked them to turn on the lights inside the car but Hoodbhoy sped off instead. Quoting him further, the FIR mentions that Raza asked Hoodbhoy as to why he was running away at which Hoodbhoy replied this is the way to deal with the police.
According to the FIR, Raza has said in his statement that police began aerial fire while chasing their car in a police mobile and shot in the direction of the driver’s seat as they approached Fatima Jinnah Road. He has further said in his statement to the police that he was injured by the same bullet that hit Hoodbhoy, after which officials approached the car, saw the victims [in an injured condition] and fled the scene.
Raza has said that he can identify the officials involved in the firing incident.
According to South District DIG Sharjeel Kharal, the case is being probed by an investigation team comprising SSP Aijaz, SSP Nazir and Frere Hall DSP. He said that all steps will be taken to ensure that the investigation is transparent and CCTV footage is being collected as part of the investigation.
Sindh IGP Syed Kaleem Imam has also taken notice of the incident and has sought details of the case, including particulars of the investigation, from South District DIG.
Karachi Police has made a reputation for themselves when it comes to killing innocent citizens. In one such case, a citizen, Intezar was gunned down by ACLC officials on January 13, 2018. While officials found to be guilty of shooting Intezar have been arrested, the case is in progress in an anti-terrorism court, even more than a year after the incident took place.
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In a similar incident, another citizen, Maqsood, was shot and killed by police officials during an alleged fake encounter on January 20, 2018. Later, his family members held protests demanding that the actual culprits be arrested.
Another citizen Ilyas was killed in police firing aimed at dispersing protesters staging a demonstration in Orangi Town on April 17, 2018. Similarly, a citizen, Musab, died after he was shot by a five-member police squad when they opened fire in an attempt to catch a robber, on June 16, 2018.
A rickshaw driver, Nafees, was killed in crossfire between the police and alleged robbers.
However, perhaps the most tragic of these incidents was the killing of 10-year-old Amal Umer by police officials on August 13.
Families of all these and many more, who lost their lives as a consequence of police brutality, are awaiting justice and Hoodbhoy and Raza’s families now have too joined the list.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2019.