The Supreme Court has directed the Sindh government to consider the registration of Perween Rahman’s murder case under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Nasir ul Mulk, observed on Tuesday that there appears to be no personal motive behind the murder and Rahman was targeted by local land-grabbers and the water tanker mafia for her views on social issues.
The bench recommended that Sindh’s additional prosecutor general consider the registration of the case under the ATA. Perween Rahman, director of the Orangi Pilot Project Research and Training Institute in Karachi, was shot dead on March 13, 2013. Justice Nasir ul Mulk said Rahman’s murderers intended to do away with her while also sending a message to others with similar views. “This is what terrorism is,” he remarked.
DIG Karachi West Javed Alam Oudho told the court that investigations into the murder were shelved after Qari Bilal was arrested in a police encounter a day after Rahman’s killing. Bilal gave a statement to the police revealing the names of three other accused including Farhan, Tableeghi and Toor Khan involved in other crimes. Bilal later succumbed to his injuries but the others have not been arrested by the police so far. Bilal’s involvement was ascertained through matching bullet casings found at the murder scene with those used by Bilal otherwise.
District and Sessions Judge Karachi West Ghulam Mustafa Memon said the encounter with Bilal and the recovery of his pistol by the police did not inspire confidence as the police officer who shot Bilal was unable to say where exactly he had shot him. The police report also stated that the case of the encounter with Qari Bilal and the reported recovery of his pistol should be investigated once more by ‘an honest officer’.
During the hearing, counsel for petitioner Mohammad Raheel Kamran Sheikh expressed satisfaction over the judge’s recommendation to register the case under the ATA but cited Section 19 of the Act, which allows a probe by a federal government joint investigation team and the intelligence agencies. The counsel opposed a reference of the murder case to the police for re-investigation.
He said he had submitted an application to make the federal government party in the case as this was not just a provincial subject and there were clear indications of the involvement of land-grabbers and the water tanker mafia in the crime. The hearing is adjourned until May 6.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2014.