Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Monday wrote a 'strongly worded' letter to Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam and expressed displeasure over what he termed the "unprofessional handling" of the Irshad Ranjhani case.
The provincial chief executive ordered the police chief to submit a report within 48 hours.
On February 6, Abdul Rahim Shah, the union council chairman of Bhains Colony — a neighbourhood in the Shah Latif Town area adjacent to the National Highway — shot an alleged street criminal reportedly in self-defence alleging that the suspect wanted to commit an armed robbery.
It later turned out that the alleged mugger, Irshad Ranjhani, was the city president of the nationalist Jeay Sindh Tehreek (JST) party.
Karachi police on Monday arrested UC chairman Shah, who belongs to the PML-N, on the charge that he denied the alleged street criminal medical help after shooting him.
In the letter written to the police chief, a copy of which was obtained by Dawn, Murad said he was writing in "utter dismay" with regards to the "unfortunate incident" and added that videos of the incident available on social media portrayed an "inhuman and gory picture".
As per the letter, the provincial chief minister said Abdul Rahim Shah had "apparently" acted "like the judge, jury and the executioner at the scene and violently flaunted the rule of the gun at the crime scene".
He added that Shah had not allowed anyone at the site of the incident to take the now deceased individual to the hospital.
"Even if the claim of Abdul Rahim Shah comes out as true after the investigation, the law does not give him licence to kill and take law into his hands," observed Murad, adding that such verdict remains in the domain of the courts of law.
The chief minister wrote that the incident had "shaken the writ of the state and dented the confidence of the people in the government’s ability to protect and safeguard their lives".
He said the police force had exhibited “an irresponsible attitude" and had not reached the scene in time, which resulted in the victim succumbing to his gunshot wounds before being shifted to the hospital.
Murad noted that while the police had been exercising "complete autonomy" in its administrative affairs, its efficiency in the discharge of duties, as evidenced by this incident, is "sub-optimal and leaves a lot of room for further improvement".
He observed that the handling of the incident had "cast serious doubts" on the professionalism and efficiency of the police force.
Murad pointed out that people have started asking "tough questions" about the performance of the police in handling an incident, which may have the "potential of flaring up ethnic emotions and discontent".
The chief minister reminded IG Imam that the superintendence of police and security situation in Sindh vests in the provincial government.
"I must remind you that the police force was entrusted operational independence by the Sindh High Court for the purpose of improvement in the efficiency," the chief minister wrote.
"As chief executive of the province, I shall not act as a bystander and watch the fiasco like above to shatter the image of the provincial government," he asserted.
He pointed out that it was his constitutional responsibility to ensure that the principles of "natural justice and fair play" were adhered to by the departments and agencies of the provincial government.
In view of the incident, the chief minister directed the Sindh inspector general to "expedite the investigation as per law/rules in vogue."
Furthermore, he asked the IGP Imam to fix responsibility on the "delinquent officials" who "mishandled the entire incident from the beginning".
The incident had sparked protests online and near the Karachi Press Club, with the alleged mugger's supporters demanding the arrest of the UC chairman and action against policemen who had, according to the protesters, portrayed the victim as a criminal.
However, Karachi's DIG East Amir Farooqui on Monday stated that investigations revealed that the JST leader had intended to rob the UC chairman when he was shot in self-defence by the latter.
Police mindset needs to be changed
While speaking during the Sindh Assembly session, Murad discussed the incident and said that a "level of humanity" needed to be put in the police adding that a change in mindset was required.
He said that while in the assembly they were talking about passing laws requiring hospitals to provide treatment, the police — whose duty was to provide protection — had taken a man shot five times to police station instead of the hospital.
He asked the assembly for permission to move against the "police officers and the people that have committed this gross criminal negligence which has resulted in the death of a person".
"If need be, I will register the FIR against involved policemen," said the chief minister.
Ranjhani's brother reject findings of inquiry team
The members of nationalist parties and civil society activists staged a sit-in on Sharae Faisal near Karsaz against Ranjhani's killing.
Ranjhani's brother claimed that his brother was "innocent" and police have registered a "fake case" against him. He accused police of "patronising" Abdul Rahim Shah and rejected the findings of the inquiry team, terming them to be "partial".
He demanded that a murder and terror case be registered against Shah.
Sindh ministers Saeed Ghani, Nasir Shah and senior police officers held talks with the protesters and the suspect's relatives.
Ghani said that the Sindh government had decided to register a murder case against the UC chairman and added that all police officers including Shah Latif Station House Officer (SHO) would be suspended and arrested over charges of negligence.
Protesters have announced that they will continue the sit-in till they are provided with a copy of FIR filed against Shah over the murder charges.
The sit-in caused a massive traffic jam on the main artery of the metropolis.