ISLAMABAD: A judicial inquiry into the investigation of the murder of renowned philanthropist Parveen Rehman appears to have uncovered manipulation by police investigators and has recommended that the whole case be reinvestigated by “efficient, independent and honest police officer(s)”.
The report, prepared by a district and sessions judge in Karachi on the orders of the Supreme Court, is expected to be presented in the court of Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk when he hears a constitutional petition filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
According to an executive summary obtained by Dawn, police officials “did not hesitate to manipulate key aspects of the investigation”. Qari Bilal, the man blamed for Parveen’s murder, was allegedly killed in a shootout with police on Sultanabad Road in Karachi on March 14.
“The story of the mysterious encounter and recovery of the pistol does not inspire confidence as the police officer, namely Ashfaq Hussain Baloch, station house office at Manghopir police station – who claims to have killed Qari Bilal in an encounter and recovered (the) pistol from him – has stated that Qari Bilal had sustained multiple firearm injuries but he did not know on what parts of the body. No one was injured from the police side,” the report said.
Casting further doubts on the police account, the inquiry officer maintains, “Before making their escape… the three companions of Qari Bilal… set on fire the car they were traveling in. 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”, it said.
The report also casts doubts on the veracity of the ballistic evidence that allowed police to connect Qari Bilal to Parveen’s murder. “The evidence regarding the matching of (casings) recovered from the (crime scene) with the pistol allegedly recovered from Qari Bilal is also not free from manipulation. Police had no clue about the involvement of Qari Bilal in the murder of Parveen Rahman and there was no occasion for sending the (casings) and the pistol to ballistic experts for matching. 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 said.
In addition to these revelations, the report calls for extending police protection to staff of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), reopening of the investigation into the murder of OPP workers as well as the death of Qari Bilal and his alleged connection to Parveen’s murder.
Parveen Rehman was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle on Manghopir Road on March 13 last year. According to her sister, Parveen regularly campaigned against land and water-tanker mafias, investigating and documenting their activities. According to the report, the mafias were making an annual Rs500 million from this racket and they could not afford a voice being raised against them.