KARACHI: A young worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who was booked and arrested for his alleged involvement in targeted killing cases, died in police custody on Saturday.
While the police claimed that 23-year-old Muhammad Faraz Alam alias Rider died of cardiac arrest, the exact cause of death would only be determined after a post-mortem examination to be conducted in the presence of a judicial magistrate.
The MQM announced a ‘peaceful day of mourning’ across the country for Sunday and appealed for closure of transport and commercial activities.
Officials said that the suspect was arrested by the Korangi Industrial Area police about a week ago for his alleged involvement in murder and attempted murder cases. He was handed over to the investigation section of the Khokhrapar police station and they produced him in court and obtained his remand till Saturday.
Area DSP Baqi Rind said: “His remand ended on Saturday and the investigation police were taking him to court when he complained of chest pain on Sharea Faisal near Nursery. The police mobile was diverted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where he died during treatment.”
The police confirmed that the deceased was associated with the Unit 96 of the MQM’s organisational structure.
A committee comprising police officers has been constituted to find out the actual cause of the custodial death.
“Additional IGP Ghulam Qadir Thebo has set up a committee to investigate the death of a man in Khokhrapar police custody,” a Karachi police spokesman said.
He added that the probe body comprising the Korangi SSP, Shah Faisal Colony SP and ASP-Ferozabad would work under the supervision of the DIG-East and complete its report within three days.
Tension gripped the Malir area after the news of the MQM activist’s death reached there. Traders pulled down shutters and traffic gradually disappeared from roads and routine life came to a standstill within an hour.
The MQM reacted strongly over its worker’s death and alleged that party workers were being deliberately targeted for their political association.
Talking to reporters, MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi said that Faraz Alam was brutally tortured in custody after being arrested in a false case and he had also shown the torture marks to the judge when he was produced in court for remand.
He alleged that the Korangi Industrial Area SHO had demanded Rs1 million for releasing him.
“The police and law enforcement agencies are exploiting the targeted operation and using it as a tool to target the MQM,” said Mr Rizvi. “The police raid houses of our workers, arrest them and then demand a bribe for their release. Anyone who fails to do so meets the same fate like that of Faraz Alam.”
He said that the MQM would not accept an inquiry committee comprising police officers against their own colleagues.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2015