JIT links Perween Rehman’s murder with land grabbing

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh police conceded before the Supreme Court that the mysterious murder of Perween Rehman, the director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), Karachi, was the result of a conspiracy hatched by those threatened by her efforts against land grabbing and her championing of the Goth Abad scheme.
The report of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), appointed to probe the March 13, 2013 murder of Ms Rehman, was furnished by Deputy Inspector Gen­eral of West Zone, Karachi, Amir Farooqi before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.
The interim report stated that the linking of Qazi Bilal, believed to be a senior commander of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan who was reportedly killed in a police encounter on March 14, 2013 — a day after the murder of Ms Rehman — with the murder as prime suspect was in all probability false.
Ms Rehman was going home from her office when unidentified assailants approached her car on a motorcycle on Manghopir Road near Banaras Flyover and opened fire. She rece­ived gunshot wounds in her neck and was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital by her driver where she died.
Advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh, appearing on behalf of Aquila Ismail, Ms Rehman’s sister, expressed his confidence over the interim report by stating that the JIT was heading in the right direction but expressed the apprehension that its composition might be changed in future.
However, Additional Advo­cate General for Sindh Shaharyar assured the court that the composition of the JIT would not be changed.
The JIT report contended that the JIT found the accounts of Sub-Inspector Ashfaq Baloch and former SHO of Peerabad police station Abdul Moeed about linking Qari Bilal with the murder simply unbelievable.
According to the report, Qari Bilal was probably killed over an internal dispute between Taliban factions but his body was subsequently picked up by the two police officials who claimed that he was killed in an encounter.
Other police staff conceded that Abdul Moeed was considered to be personal staff officer of District West SSP Asif Ijaz Sheikh and was more powerful than any other police functionary in the district, the report stated, adding that it would have been easy for him to manipulate the collection of evidence, for instance changing the spent bullet casings collected to ensure that they matched.
It said that Ashfaq Baloch had a patchy professional record and had been previously involved in professional missteps.
While Baloch lied about the facts of the encounter in which Qari Bilal was said to be killed, he was not involved in a wider manipulation.
The JIT held former SI Abdul Moeed as an officer who enjoyed extremely bad reputation both in terms of integrity and professionalism. Currently, he has been dismissed from police service over some other matter and also facing a murder charge in an unrelated case.
According to the report, the JIT was of the opinion that Moeed most likely did play a central role in the manipulation of evidence, but there was no evidence on record to prove this.
The JIT admitted that the ‘real investigation’ into the death of Ms Rehman began three years after her murder, and due to the lapse of time, it was difficult to gather technical evidence that would have assisted in the investigation.
While concluding, the report said the JIT needed to examine the context of a wider motive behind the murder before submission of a final report to try to find a concrete link between the work that Ms Rehman was doing and the elements or forces that were most affected and impacted by her efforts.
The court then ordered the JIT to submit the final report by April 24.