In its first progress report, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has linked the offshoot Abid Muchar Group of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s to the murder of Orangi Pilot Project’s former director Perween Rehman in Karachi.
“It has been revealed that Mehfoozullah Bhallo – who has been affiliated with Abid Muchar Group of TTP –and his group might be involved in the murder,” said the JIT report which was shared with the Supreme Court.
According to the 15-page report, the peripheral area of the crime scene (Manghopir road) is predominantly under the influence of the Abid Muchar Group and serves as a sanctuary for the group. “A team was constituted on the basis experience to make all possible efforts to gather evidence and arrest assailants involved in the murder case. Furthermore, the team members searched for the accused in the area of PS Manghopir and Orangi Town. They have spoken to several people and installed spies to assist the process,” the report said. Moreover, the police have investigated heads of six hydrant mafia groups. However, no evidence has surfaced despite thorough investigations by a skilled team.
Although the police have repeatedly interrogated the accused, they have neither been able to determine his involvement in the case nor obtain additional information about the incident. The accused was sent to judicial custody on July 26.
The report also revealed that the police also contacted Anwar Rashid, director of the Orangi Pilot Project and a petitioner in the court case. They asked him about the pressing concerns faced by Perween Rehman at the time of her assassination. While he refused to comment on the problems and pressures experienced by Perween Rehman, Anwar Rashid believed land grabbers and the illegal hydrant mafia were responsible for the murder. Zohra Yusuf of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) voiced similar concerns when asked about the incident.
The JIT report indicates that a six-point agenda have been formulated to navigate the investigations in the right direction. According to the progress report, the police will continue to cooperate with Perween Rahman’s children and the office bearers of Orangi Pilot Project to collect evidence. Furthermore, the whereabouts of Mehfoozullah Balloo — a suspect in the case who is also wanted in other cases of targeted killing and extortion — will be determined through the effective management of available resources.
The report indicates that the ISI, Special Branch and the IB will utilise their sources to obtain secret information about the mafia groups involved in the incident. Pakistan Rangers will also be asked to cooperate in the investigation procedure. The travel records of the brother and friend of the accused will also be obtained from FIA.
On the other hand, Raheel Kamran Sheikh, a counsel for the petitioner, told The Express Tribune that the JIT had yet to contact the petitioners to assist the inquiries. He added that the HRCP had written a letter to the Sindh police seeking details of the ongoing investigation. However, the police had merely informed them by telephone that the panel had been constituted.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2014.