KARACHI: Sabeen Mahmud, social media campaigner and human rights activist who founded the social forum T2F, was shot dead on Friday evening, minutes after the end of an interactive discussion ‘Unsilencing Balochistan’ organised by her and attended by journalists and rights activists, including the founder leader of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, Abdul Qadeer Baloch.
Karachi-South Deputy Inspector General of Police Dr Jamil Ahmed ruled out the killing as result of a mugging attempt and said she had been attacked deliberately but he could not share any possible motive.
“She was returning home with her mother in a car after the seminar she had organised on Balochistan,” he said.
“It’s an incident of targeted killing, but we are not aware of any threats she had been receiving. The investigations are on and it would be too early to speculate about the motive behind the killing,” the official said.
Defence police SHO Kansan Dean said pillion riders on a motorcycle attacked Ms Mehmud and her mother on Sunset Boulevard in DHA Phase-II after they had left the T2F in a car. Both of them suffered bullet injuries and were taken to a nearby private hospital where doctors pronounced Sabeen dead.
Her mother was shifted to the Aga Khan University Hospital.
The body was taken to the Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre for post-mortem.
“She sustained four bullet injuries on her face, neck and chest,” police surgeon Dr Jalil Qadir said. Her autopsy, conducted by senior medico-legal officer Dr Nasreen Qamar, also showed injuries on her arm and shoulder that might be bullet exit wounds, added the police surgeon.
Half an hour before her murder, Sabeen Mehmud’s Facebook status read: “Unsilencing Balochistan (Take 2) with Wusatullah Khan, Mama Qadeer, Farzana Baloch and Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur. Moderated by Moneeza Ahmed.”
“It appears that an attempt is being made to silence human rights defenders or those who take up the causes of the people,” the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Chairperson Zohra Yusuf said after the incident.
“This is a shocking event for the city and citizens as T2F has been providing a space to the people to express their views,” the prominent rights activist said. On Thursday at 6.30pm, Sabeen Mehmud had also organised a seminar about the Balochistan situation, she said.
“It was the same seminar which was organised by LUMS (Lahore University of Management Sciences) where three speakers – Mama Qadeer, Farzana Majeed and Mohammed Ali Talpur – were the same, but it was cancelled under alleged pressure of ISI,” the HRCP chief said.
“It can’t be said categorically that her murder was linked with this event,” Ms Yusuf said.
“As Ms Sabeen has been consistently providing the space of T2F to discuss the issues of human rights, cultural diversity etc due to which she had received threats, prompting her to hire the services of a security guard,” she said.
“She was trying to promote liberal and rational thinking, which is lacking in society,” said Ms Yusuf.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, who is in charge of the home ministry, sought a report about the incident and ordered the city police chief to arrest the killers.
Karachi police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo formed a special team, headed by a DIG, to investigate the murder, according to a spokesman.
Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2015