Mohammad Riaz stood tall at five foot five inches with a white cloth covering his face at the North Nazimabad police station. DSP Abdul Rashid Khan claims that he has confessed to having defiled the corpses of 48 women in the Paposh Nagar graveyard in the last eight years.
“We had an inkling that something was not right at the graveyard but we did not know what was wrong,” he said. “We had gotten some of the gorkans [grave diggers] to work with us and keep an eye on this man for a month.” The DSP added that Riaz could not have been caught earlier as he had vanished into thin air.
While talking to the media on Saturday, Riaz said that he had heard a new grave had been dug and a woman had been buried. “I went inside the grave like I usually do and got scared,” he said. “The dead woman’s face and teeth were disgusting. There was a light in her eyes that really horrified me. I got out as fast as I could and started running.” He added that when he saw the woman’s face, he had sworn never to indulge in these sort of activities ever again.
As Riaz started running away from the grave in fear, he caught the attention of grave diggers and other people. Soon there was a mob running after him with sticks and stones. Everyone, including the police thought that he was a thief or murderer. “We were conducting a snap check in the area when we found out,” said the police. “We thought the people had caught a robber or something, had no idea that it would be something so strange.” They claim that by the time they had figured out what Riaz did, the mob was ready to beat him up and tear him to pieces. They took him to the North Nazimabad police station for further investigations. Riaz claims that his family is from Sargodha but he has spent his entire life in Karachi. He joined the graveyard nearly eight years ago to water the plants and graves. “I got a job through one of the gorkans. His name was Wazir and he died two years ago,” he said. “Wazir taught me.”
Riaz’s crime used to go undetected as the graves were ‘katcha’ or the earth was freshly dug.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2011.