KARACHI: A police constable, who worked as driver of slain social activist Sabeen Mahmud and was a witness to her killing in April this year, was shot dead in the city’s Korangi area on Monday.

According to officials, 48-year-old Ghulam Abbas was attacked outside his home in Bhitai Colony.

Two men on a motorcycle opened fire at him and escaped. He suffered three bullet wounds and died on the spot, said area DSP Rao Iqbal. “The victim was currently posted at the anti-corruption establishment. We have collected four spent bullet casings from the crime scene,” he added.

The DSP said the attackers had been identified by two witnesses and initial findings suggested that they had come to see him a few days ago.

Sabeen Mahmud, a social media campaigner and human rights activist, was shot dead on April 24 minutes after the end of an interactive discussion ‘Unsilen­cing Balochistan’ she had organised at her social forum — T2F. It was attended by journalists and rights activists, including the founder leader of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, Abdul Qadeer Baloch.

In June, police claimed to have busted a gang of militants which had attacked a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community near Safoora Goth. The militants had also confessed to killing Ms Mahmud because of “her views about Lal Masjid’s cleric Abdul Aziz, Valentine’s Day and Burqa (veil)”.

The killing of her driver is a major setback to investigations into her murder, though police are not sure if the two killings are linked.

“Ghulam Abbas used to work as Sabeen Mahmud’s part-time driver. The witnesses insisted that the attackers knew him personally so we can’t reach any conclusion with authority about the motive behind the killing,” DSP Iqbal said.

But for SP Raja Umer Khattab of CID’s counter-terror unit it might be an attempt to eliminate the key witness who had identified the suspected killers of Ms Mahmud in court during the trial of the case.

“At the time of the attack Sabeen Mahmud was driving the car with Ghulam Abbas sitting on the rear seat,” he said, adding that it would not affect the case because Ghulam Abbas had already identified Sabeen’s killers and his role in the case was already closed.

But, he said, it’s now crucial to secure the lives of other witnesses.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2015

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