KARACHI: As escalating violence in Karachi claimed over a 100 lives in the past week, a new phase of terror has blanketed the city of late.
Victims of the latest round of violence – which is the worst to hit Karachi in the last 16 years – are not only being tortured to death and dumped in gunny bags, but are also being criminally assaulted and mutilated.
Entire episodes of these brutalities are being recorded and circulated on video, said the police, who have recovered the evidence from the mobile phones of the accused.
The videos, which are also in possession of The Express Tribune, were recovered from four suspects: Shahnawaz Baloch, Rafiq, Mustafa Baloch and Naeem Jan, who were arrested by police on Tuesday. At a press conference, Shahnawaz confessed to his group’s crimes and termed them ‘acts of revenge’.
“This is not a one-sided battle. All of this is revenge for what has been happening to our people,” Shahnawaz said.
“I’m not alone in this. There are countless men like me who have been forced to resort to these measures after having gone through the same ordeal themselves.”
Contents of the videos
Currently the police are in possession of three such video clips of varying lengths, which are being analysed to unearth clues regarding the incident and find out who the victims were. Police claim that the target killers themselves are unsure of who exactly they assaulted, killed and then mutilated.
The contents of one of the videos are as follows: a young man is seen crying in sheer terror as the assailant criminally assaults him. Another man is seen lying next to the victim with a black hood covering his face, as one man captures the video on his mobile phone. Sacks, ropes and blood can also be seen splattered all around the small room where the victims have been detained.
As the victim is being kept in the torture cell where the windows have steel bars, the video maker steps out briefly which reveals that the cell is actually housed in a small bungalow, where several men are sitting in what appears to be a drawing room. The other video clip shows the body of the victim is being mutilated.
(Read: Serial killers in our midst)
According to a local PPP leader and senior member of the defunct Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) Zafar Baloch, the videos were made at the Salaar compound on the outskirts of Lyari where his rivals hold sway. Meanwhile, police suspect that the videos were made in a warehouse near Bheempura which had been illegally occupied for the past three months.
Police revealed that the four suspects belong to the Akram Baloch group of gangsters, who are engaged in a turf war against the PAC’s Uzair Baloch gang. Previously, Akram was working under the banner of the PAC.
However, in 2009, differences developed and he formed his own gang. Akram’s group recently also came into the limelight when it launched a grenade attack on Zafar Baloch. Akram’s gang has a stronghold in the Old City areas including Salaar Compound, Bheem Pura while the PAC is believed to have a complete hold in Lyari.
South Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Naeem Sheikh says these gangsters are not just abducting members of their rival groups and that most of the victims were actually innocent men.
“It’s not only the PAC members which are being targeted. For the rivals, all the people from Lyari are their enemies,” Sheikh explained regarding the Akram Baloch operatives. He added that the warehouse in Bheempura had been sealed.
The content of the videos is gruesome and the perpetrators have been caught. However, many questions are still left unanswered. For example it still remains unclear when were the videos made and what patronage did the group have.
Sheikh said his team was still in the process of investigating the case.
Meanwhile, criminologist Dr Fateh Burfat termed the new trend of not only committing the crimes but also filming them as most ‘alarming’.
“This is what happens when serial killers are given an open hand to operate in a city and the repeated offenders escape punishment regularly.”
(With input from Salman Siddiqui)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2011.