ISLAMABAD: The counsel for petitioners in the case of the murder of social activist, Perween Rahman, Raheel Kamran Sheikh, says the Sindh police is not investigating the murder in light of a judicial inquiry report that states the police did not hesitate to manipulate key aspects of the investigation.
Sheikh was appearing in the Supreme Court on behalf of 12 civil society groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research in the Perween Rahman murder case.
Qari Bilal, the man blamed for Rahman’s murder, was allegedly killed in a shootout with the police on Sultanabad Road in Karachi on March 14. The report, submitted by district and sessions judge Karachi West Ghulam Mustafa in April, said: “The story of the mysterious encounter and recovery of the pistol does not inspire confidence as the police officer, who claims to have killed Qari Bilal, has stated that Qari Bilal had sustained multiple firearm injuries but he did not know on what parts of the body.”
While speaking with The Express Tribune, Shaikh contended that the Sindh police are not investigating the case in view of the inquiry report.
The apex court had summoned CIA DIG Sultan Ali Khwaja on Tuesday, to question why progress has not been made in the investigations into the murder. However, the hearing could not be resumed on Tuesday as the SC’s bench was busy hearing a case related to the Sindh government’s review petition against its judgment regarding the promotion of police officers. Shaikh said an application will be moved in the next two days regarding a hearing next week.
A judicial inquiry into the investigation has recommended that the case be re-investigated by “efficient, independent and honest police office(s)”. Casting doubts on the police’s account, the inquiry officer maintains, “Before making their escape the three companions of Qari Bilal set the car they were travelling in on fire. After encountering a huge police party in which their companion was killed, they could not afford to waste time in setting the car on fire. Such conduct on their part is unnatural. The artificiality of the story is apparent.”
The report also casts doubts on the veracity of the ballistics evidence that allowed police to connect Qari Bilal to Perween’s murder, saying it is ‘not free from manipulation’. “In order to minimise the chances of manipulation, casings are required to be sealed and sent immediately to the Forensic Laboratory without waiting for the recovery of the weapon. This was not done in this case. The casings were recovered on March 13, 2013. Even though the next day was a working day, the casings were sent to the laboratory on March 15, after the recovery of the alleged murder weapon. There is no explanation for the delay, except that police wanted to manipulate things,” the report states.
The report asks police to take security measures for the staff of the Orangi Pilot Project, an organisation headed by Rahman, and to re-open the investigation into the murder of Project workers, as well as Qari Bilal’s death.
According to the Sindh police’s recent report, investigating officers have now been directed to focus on collecting information about the identity of three fugitives involved in the murder. The JIT is expected to focus on issues raised by the SC bench.
Investigating officers have been tasked with probing the alleged involvement of land grabbers and tanker mafia in this matter in view of the court’s observations.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2014.