SC orders Centre, Sindh to trace culprits behind threats to Perween Rahman's family

Updated January 22, 2019

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Perween Rahman, a social worker and activist who devoted her life to the development of the impoverished neighbourhoods, was gunned down near her Orangi Town office on March 13, 2013. ─ Photo courtesy Justice for Perween Rahman
Perween Rahman, a social worker and activist who devoted her life to the development of the impoverished neighbourhoods, was gunned down near her Orangi Town office on March 13, 2013. ─ Photo courtesy Justice for Perween Rahman

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Centre and Sindh government to track those responsible for threatening phone calls being made to the family of slain Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) head Perween Rahman and current director Anwar Rashid.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed was hearing a case regarding the murder of Rahman, a social worker and activist who devoted her life to the development of the impoverished neighbourhoods. Rahman was gunned down near her Orangi Town office on March 13, 2013.

Rahman was a compiler of the records of lands on the fringes of the city in the shape of villages which are quickly vanishing due to the migration of thousands of families from across the country to Karachi each year.

She had stated on the record that around 1,500 goths had been merged into the city since the late 90s, and that landgrabbers had subdivided them into plots and earned billions off selling them.

Explore: Perween Rahman's murder: the great cover-up

Rahman's sister informed the court that Rashid and herself were receiving threatening calls.

Justice Saeed remarked that it appeared as though a foreign telephone number was being used to issue the threats, but it was possible that the person making the calls was Pakistani.

The court ordered the federal and provincial governments to probe the matter and subsequently adjourned the case for two weeks.

Perween Rahman was going home from her office when unidentified assailants approached her car on a motorcycle on Manghopir Road near Banaras Flyover and opened fire. She received gunshot wounds in her neck and was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital by her driver where she died.

Explore: The politics of land in Karachi

Five accused — Abdul Raheem Swati, his son Mohammad Imran Swati, and three co-accused: Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan, and Ahmed Khan alias Ahmed Ali alias Pappu Kashmiri — have been charged with her murder.

Earlier this month, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi had dismissed Rahman's sister's request to summon the members of each of the three joint investigation teams (JITs) formed to probe the murder.

Her counsel had asserted that the JIT members were important witnesses since they had detained and grilled the accused involved, and requested that they may be summoned to testify before the court.

He also contended that at the very initial stage of the case, police high-ups had disclosed at a press conference that the real culprits behind the murder of Rahman had been killed in a ‘police encounter’.

The ATC judge had observed that the plea was filed at a belated stage only to prolong the case without justification and subsequently dismissed it.