The Supreme Court has expressed concern over the rising threats against the petitioners, as well as the family, of slain social activist Perveen Rehman, if they don’t agree to drop her murder case.
Rehman, one of the country’s top development workers and director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), was gunned down in Karachi in March 2013.
Read: Perween Rahman remembered
On Monday, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) counsel Raheel Kamran Sheikh, along with 11 other petitioners, told the apex court that in May, police had asked Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) Director Anwar Rashid to withdraw the case because the “threat level” was increasing.
On May 30, the petitioners added, two unknown armed men came to the residence of Rehman’s sister and threatened her mother with dire consequences. The police, however, did not take any action.
Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, who heads the three-judge bench, told the Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA) Karachi DIG Sultan Khawaja, who is supervising the investigation team, that the top court had taken notice itself and would not allow the petitioners to withdraw this “case of public importance”.
The Karachi East SSP told the judges that according to the people accused of coming to the house of Rehman’s sister, Aqeela Ismail, they had a recovery dispute with her so no action was taken against them.
Expressing annoyance over the reply, the chief justice said the police was bound to record the statements of the complainant and register a case against the accused.
The court ordered the police to give full security to the family members of Rehman.
Read: Perween Rahman murder case: Justice elusive as OPP members threatened
On behalf of the Sindh police, SSP Sabir Shah requested the bench to give some more time to arrest the prime suspect named Naeem Sawati in the murder case. CIA DIG Khawaja asked for two weeks.
The court adjourned the proceedings until July 28. The next hearing will be held at the SC’s Karachi registry.
In 2013, the top court had taken suo motu notice of the assassination of Rehman and directed the Karachi (West) district and sessions judge to investigate the killing.
In April 2014, the inquiry commission recommended the whole case be reinvestigated by “efficient, independent and honest police officer(s)”. The report stated that police officials “did not hesitate to manipulate key aspects of the investigation”.
In view of the report, a joint investigation team (JIT) was formed to reinvestigate the case. Even after more than a year, the Sindh police have failed to arrest the main accused.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.