KARACHI: Police officials on Friday grilled two professors of Karachi University and an official of the NED University in connection with the murder of KU dean of Faculty of Islamic Studies Dr Prof Shakeel Auj.

Dr Auj was gunned down by two motorcyclists when he was travelling in a friend’s car on University Road in Gulshan-i-Iqbal on Thursday morning.

The case was though registered against unknown assailants at the Aziz Bhatti police station under Sections 302 of the PPC (murder) and 7-ATA (antiterrorism act) on a complaint by the slain professor’s son, Hissan, senior police officers summoned the professors and the NED university official in connection with the probe, said Gulshan SP Abid Qaimkhani.

The SP said he and SSP-East Pir Mohammed Shah thoroughly interrogated at his office Dr Abdul Rasheed, former dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies, KU, faculty member Dr Naseer Akhter and Samiuz Zaman, PA to the pro-VC of the NED University.

After interrogation, the two professors and the varsity official were allowed to go home on the condition that they would be bound to appear before the investigators whenever needed, said SP Abid Qaimkhani, adding that they had been told to appear before the probing team on Saturday (today) also.

He disclosed that Sami was a student of the fourth suspect, Dr Ubaid, also a faculty member, who would also be probed after his return from Saudi Arabia. He left just a day before Dr Auj’s murder, he said.

It was Sami who had allegedly sent a threatening message to Dr Auj in 2012, prompting the late professor to lodge a case at the Mobina Town police station against Sami, Dr Ubaid, Dr Abdul Rasheed and Dr Naseer Akhter.

Police had arrested Sami and Dr Rasheed and framed charges against them in the court concerned but the accused were acquitted for want of sufficient evidence.

Dr Rasheed had sent a legal notice to Dr Auj around a week ago, which suggested a ‘tussle’ between them was still simmering, he said.

Tracing the origins of rivalry between the professors, Mr Qaimkhani said that after assuming charge as the dean of faculty, Dr Auj had taken notice of the involvement of some professors in a fake degrees scam. A few weeks ago, Dr Rasheed had also challenged before the KU syndicate the award of DLit degree to Dr Auj.

Prof Rasheed told Dawn on Thursday that he also aspired to get the same degree and there was nothing wrong in it to question its award to Dr Auj.

The SP said that on the basis of the past rivalry and the running tussle, police decided to interrogate the professors to investigate the possibility whether they had ‘instigated’ someone to target the late professor.

He said that since Dr Auj was an important religious scholar, police were also probing the possibility if he had been targeted for his views.

Police had sent bullet casings found at the crime scene to the forensic laboratory to ascertain if the bullets had been fired from the same weapon used in at least 50 targeted killings of religious personalities in the metropolis, he said, adding that police also sought help from the CCTV cameras installed outside a private bank and a medical store on University Road.

Since Dr Auj was travelling in a car of his friend Jamil, who had sent his chauffer to pick him up, the investigation team took hold of the cell-phone record of the suspects and found that Mr Jamil’s driver made contact with him at 10:09am but when Mr Jamil returned the call, Prof Auj had already been killed and was being taken to the AKUH, he said.

Mr Qaimkhani said Dr Auj was sitting in the middle of the backseat and there was a possibility that someone familiar with the late professor might have disclosed his seating place to the killers.

SSP-East Pir Mohammed Shah and SP Gulshan Qaimkhani visited the KU and met people who had last seen the dean before his murder.

A student of Dr Auj, Dr Amna, who was also in the car, was also injured in the gun attack. The two others seated beside Dr Auj were: Dr Prof Tahir Masood, chairman of the Mass Communication Department of the KU and a niece of his.

Dr Auj was on his way to attend a ceremony in his honour at the Iranian cultural centre for having been awarded Tamgha-i-Imtiaz by the president on Aug 14.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2014

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