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Sabeen was being coerced into ‘suspending her activities’

Updated April 26, 2015

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People carry the coffin of Sabeen Mahmud during her funeral in Karachi, Pakistan April 25, 2015.  — Reuters
People carry the coffin of Sabeen Mahmud during her funeral in Karachi, Pakistan April 25, 2015. — Reuters

KARACHI: Social activist and intellectual Sabeen Mahmud, who was shot dead in Karachi’s Defence Society on Friday evening, had been receiving threats on her mobile phone for the past “four to six weeks” to suspend her activities, disclosed a senior police officer on Saturday.

She was shot dead shortly after the end of a discussion programme, “Unsilencing Balochistan”, which was organised by her and attended by journalists and rights activists, including Abdul Qadeer Baloch, founder leader of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons.

DIG Karachi-South Dr Jamil Ahmed, who is leading the investigation team formed by the Karachi police chief, said: “It is a clear case of targeted killing and police are working on a few possible motives for the murder.”

Read: Remembering Sabeen: 'She received a bullet attached to a letter' – and kept going

Firstly, he said, the investigators were looking into the possibility of the involvement of some extremist organisations in it, as she was a ‘liberal, educated and intellectual woman’ who used to organise programmes on different issues.

Secondly, he said, an ‘enemy country or its intelligence agency’ might have wanted to reverse the “stability” returning to the country after the launch of Operation Zarb-i-Azb.

Thirdly, he said, her murder might be related to some ‘personal enmity’.

“These are some aspects on which the investigators are working,” said the DIG.

In reply to a question, Dr Jamil Ahmed said police had got feedback from the wounded mother and friends of Ms Mahmud who disclosed that she had been receiving threats for the past ‘four to six weeks’.

In all these threats which she had received on her mobile phone, she was told to ‘suspend your activities’, he said, adding that they would get her phone record and also try to get CCTV footage from the crime scene to get any clue to the attackers.

Her mother Mehnaz Mahmud, who was stated to be out of danger, lodged an FIR (214/2015) with the Defence police station against unidentified persons under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, Sections 302 (murder), 324 (attempted murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code, said SHO Kansan Dean.

Following the registration of the FIR, police started formal investigation into the murder.

Also read: Rights activist shot dead after seminar on Baloch issue

Sabeen Mahmud, the founding director of social forum T2F, and her mother were returning home in a car from the T2F after the programme when they were attacked by some armed motorcyclists near Defence Central Library.

She died on the spot after being hit by four bullets while her mother sustained two gunshot wounds. Her mother was shifted from the emergency department to a room at a private hospital on Saturday.

A large number of mourners, some dressed in T2F T-shirts, gathered on the T2F premises in DHA Phase-II extension, where her body was brought before her funeral on Saturday.

Her mother was also present.

Inside the space that has become well-known for hosting numerous talks, book readings, art exhibitions, film screening, music performances and plays, one poster read “We will not forget you, Sabeen”.

The body was later taken to Masjid-i-Mustafa, near DHA Office in Phase I, where funeral prayers were offered after Asr.

She was laid to rest at DHA Phase I graveyard.

Meanwhile, SHO Kansan Dean, who is also a member of the investigating team, clarified that Ms Mahmud’s driver had not been taken into custody.

He said the driver, who was sitting on the back seat, told investigators that he did not see the attackers because he had ducked for cover after hearing gunshots.

The SHO said Ms Mehnaz told police that her daughter had been receiving threats for the past one-and-a-half years. But neither did she say anything to suggest the identity of the callers nor about the reason cited by them.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2015

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