More fake encounters

Published March 29, 2018

IT seems that there is no escape from fake police encounters in this country.

More worrying, there is no sign of a realisation on the part of the authorities that they should end the gory practice — even though public anger against fake encounters is at an unprecedented level.

The killing of young Naqeebullah in Karachi in January this year led to an outpouring of grief followed by widespread protests. It has now come to light that Maqsood, another youth killed by the police in the Sindh capital within a week of the Naqeebullah incident, had also fallen prey to the same evil.

Whereas a police version maintained that Maqsood had been caught in the crossfire between the law enforcers and a group of criminals, a fresh investigation has confirmed that he died after being targeted by the police.

In news reports, this has been described as a ‘blow’ for the Karachi police, and the role of civil society in pursuing these latest cases has been highlighted.

Dawn Investigation: Rao Anwar and the killing fields of Karachi

Since the campaign against staged encounters appears to be at its peak, this is perhaps the right time to contribute to solutions that can end this deplorable practice that law enforcers across the country resort to. However, it would have been easier to sustain such hopes had previous such impressions created on the back of a heightened drive not fizzled out in the face of a particular ‘doctrine of necessity’ — one that the police who kill in fake encounters and their even more powerful backers freely subscribe to.

The case of Rao Anwar, the senior police officer in Karachi arrested following the Naqeebullah killing, is reflective of just how complicated the fake encounter phenomenon is.

It is also widespread and many in positions of authority apparently have their own list of suspects they would like to see eliminated via the fast route.

There are examples in which the police have been found to exceed their limits on their own and instances where they are puppets in the hands of others.

Whatever the case, the police force must be held accountable for what is no less than a crime.

In these times when the superior judiciary is taking a keen interest in so many things — from operations inside hospitals to proceedings at airports — it may appear a trifle odd that the sponsors of fake encounters have so far not been warned of a swoop.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2018

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