KARACHI: It was only when a young woman screamed that someone had been shot that the kahva-drinking, sheesha swilling crowd at Roadside Cafe off Boat Basin realised that the loud bang had not been a firecracker.
At around 7:15pm, a man identified as Abdul Lateef Bawany was shot in the chest at the popular outdoor hangout on Friday evening. Eyewitness Nefer Sehgal, formerly a photographer with The Express Tribune, looked up from her cup of tea to see one man in a white kurta storm out with the gun. When she realised who had been shot she rushed to his side and pressed down on the wound to staunch the flow while screaming for others to help. Eventually Bawany was rushed to the nearby Ziauddin Hospital.
There are conflicting accounts of what had exactly happened. According to Constable Imamdin Rajpar at the Boat Basin police station, they have gleaned so far that two men entered the cafe and tried to snatch Bawany’s cell phone. When he refused, they shot him and fled. “People say it was a mugging, a man just walked in and took the victim’s wallet,” said one eyewitness who did not want to be named.
A man who was sitting next to Bawany and the cash register, said however, that the suspects, three men wearing shalwar kameez, came to rob the café - a far more believable theory. “One of the men pointed a gun at the cashier. Bawany got up suddenly and the suspects turned and shot him,” he said. Bawany was wearing black trousers and a checkered shirt.
An employee of the café corroborated that there were three young men. “The gun was on the cashier’s counter, Bawany just turned and I think the suspect got nervous and fired at him,” he said.
At Ziauddin Hospital, Dr Gulab, who is treating Bawany, said that his liver and heart were safe. The liver is slightly damaged but a surgeon was called in to operate. He was admitted to the ICU.
Bawany’s paternal uncle Tariq, who was at the hospital, said that the family had just been discussing over dinner the other day how unsafe the city had become. “We were talking about how even if you had a pistol or a bullet-proof car, you never know what could happen,” he said surrounded by seven or eight relatives. “Look at what has happened to him today.”
Bawany’s sister, who is a teacher, said that when she got a phone call from home asking her to rush to the hospital, she thought something had happened to her mother who has been unwell. “When I got there, I found out that my brother had been shot,” she said. “It is a bad time for our family especially since my younger sister was also injured in an accident.”
SHO Nasir Tanoli claims to have arrested one of the suspects identified as Abdul Rehman, a resident of Sultanabad. “We saw [the suspects] on a motorcycle, they were speeding away in traffic,” he said. “They looked suspicious. We arrested one of them and the other two escaped.”
The man who brought Bawany to hospital said that his car had been shot at and he had read about muggings in the news but this was the first time he saw someone get shot. “I cannot tell you how I feel right now,” he said. “I cannot stop shivering.”
Bawany is believed to be an MBA graduate from the Lahore University of Management Sciences and works with the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation. He is said to have four children.
With writing by Tooba Masood.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2012.
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