‘Slain activist knew too much about land grabbing’

Updated 13 Nov 2014

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Parveen Rahman
Parveen Rahman

ISLAMABAD: A senior Karachi police officer told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that slain philanthropist and social worker Parveen Rahman was in possession of a map detailing the lands that have been illegally occupied by affiliates and associates of various political parties that operated in the city.

The revelation, according to the Karachi DIG Sultan Khawaja, was made by Pakistan People’s Party Senator Taj Haider.

“We had contacted the senator who praised Ms Rehman, but he disclosed that she was in possession of a detailed map of lands illegally occupied by the subsidiaries of different political parties of Karachi,” DIG Sultan told a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk.

“We are trying to get hold of that map,” the senior police officer supervising the investigation into the brutal murder of Ms Rahman said.

Ms Rahman was gunned down in cold blood on March 13, 2013, when she was on her way home from her office. Assailants on a motorbike shot at her car on Main Manghopir Road, near the Banaras Flyover. She sustained bullet wounds to the neck and was rushed to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital by her driver, where she died because of her wounds.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that the police had complete knowledge of encroached lands, adding that in most cases it was providing protection to encroachers.

The court also observed chasing land mafias might sidetrack the Sindh police from the thrust of the murder investigation. The police should identify those behind the crime by focusing the investigation on the murder of Ms Rehman, the court said.

DIG Sultan told the court that police had recorded the statements of five of Ms Rehman’s associates and had concluded that the deceased wanted regularisation of all the katchi abadis (slums) and goth settlements in the suburbs of Karachi, but this process came to a grinding halt following her murder.

Ms Rahman’s sister, Aquila Ismail is also said to be in possession of a letter, written by Ms Rahman herself, where she expresses apprehensions that the regularisation of the villages might never be completed if she died, DIG Sultan told the court. He also said that police were working on a lead regarding one Raheem Swati, who used to live near Ms Rehman’s office and had allegedly tried to block her work on the regularisation of the slums.

The police said they had information that Swati had relocated to the northern areas, but they were on his trail.

Mehfoozullah Bhallo, a close associate of Swati, was killed in a police encounter some time in September. He was allegedly involved in the murder of Ms Rehman. Had he been arrested and interrogated, sufficient information could have been obtained since he was involved in many cases of target killing and extortion, DIG Sultan said.

At this point, Justice Dost Mohammad observed that the police should investigate which groups were opposed to the regularisation of the katchi abadis.

The DIG stated that in the light of a decision taken by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), a questionnaire had been sent to the member Board of Revenue to ascertain which katchi abadis, land grabbers and land mafia were involved in the case.

The court then postponed further proceedings until Dec 17, giving Sindh police more time to arrest the culprits behind Ms Rahman’s murder.

Published in Dawn, November 13th , 2014