EIGHT weeks ago revengeful men shot dead three brothers in the PTCL Colony, located close to the Army GHQ in Rawalpindi. But all that the neighbourhood has heard since are the wails of the bereaved families - and nothing about the police’s efforts to arrest the accused and bring them to justice.
“Only if police had arrived in time!” is the constant lament of the young widows of Mohammad Azeem, 31, and Mohammad Nadeem, 27, who had been married just for 10 months when their lives were cut down by blind rage in a mix-up over a fight between schoolboys.
In his dying statement to police the third brother Mohammad Amer, 24, had identified Chaudhry Shahadat and his two brothers as the attackers.
Chaudhry Shahadat lived in the same colony and worked in the same company as Mohammad Zareen, a brother of the victims.
He and the fifth brother, Mohammad Nawaz, were injured in the September 7 attack in the precinct of R.A. Bazaar police.
Mohammad Saleem, a cousin of the stricken brothers, told Dawn that Shahadat, bristling with rage, came to their street that night, leading a group of armed men and looking for the house of Farooq Qureshi. They wanted to “teach a lesson” to Mr Qureshi’s son who they claimed had beaten Chaudhry Shahadat’s son at school.
Zareen, being an office colleague, tried to calm him down but the men with revenge on their minds wouldn’t listen. However, to his good luck, the boy was not there when the group finally located his house. He had gone to a marriage with the family.
But to the misfortune of the stricken brothers, someone in the group allegedly whispered in the ear of Chaudhry Shahadat that he was after the wrong boy and the guilty boy was the son of Zareen who studied in the same school.
Blinded by rage, Chaudhry Shahadat and his two brothers then returned to Zareen’s house. Sensing trouble, a relative dispatched Saleem and Khalid Mehmood to R.A. Bazaar police to come before the brewing trouble turns worse.
“We rushed to the police station. But I found the SHO inattentive as he was discussing something with an armyman. When I impressed upon him the urgency of averting a possible clash, he said he had to wait for the police van to return to take his men to the trouble spot,” Saleem said.
Time was running out and he offered to pay for the taxi for the policemen. “But the officer won’t listen. Suddenly I heard that guns were blazing,” he said.
The police eventually arrived, but only to find two brothers lying dead in the street. By that time the killers had fled and the grievously wounded third brother, Amer, taken to the District Headquarters Hospital,” Saleem said.
And it took a noisy and disruptive protest by the angry relatives and neighbours for the police to record his dying statement.
The punitive action taken by the City Police Officer against the R.A. Bazaar police for its pathetic negligence was the suspension of their lowly muharrir.
Police have no clue to the accused killers – Chaudhry Shahadat and his brothers Arshad Hussain and Amir Hussain – since missing them in raids on their houses in the PTCL Colony. Sources close to the investigation claim they have “disappeared”.
Members of the stricken family however claim police had recovered some weapons in the raids but arrested no inmates as is usual with the police while investigating heinous crimes.
Superintendent of Police of Potohar Division Syed Haseeb Hussain Shah, who is leading the investigation, describes the triple murder “a test case” but adds that not just the accused, their families too have disappeared from their native Chontra.
SP Shah is sad that the people of Chontra, notorious as a haven of criminals, are not helping the police in locating the wanted men who, he says, have no previous record of criminality.
Their names have been put on the Exit Control List and a reward has been announced for providing police information leading to their arrest, the officer said.