KARACHI: Amid reports of serious differences between the Sindh government and inspector general of police, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah sent a strong-worded letter to IGP Dr Syed Kaleem Imam on Monday expressing his “utter dismay” over the “unprofessional handling” of an incident in which Jeay Sindh Tehreek’s Irshad Ranjhani was killed in Malir on Feb 6.
The letter is being termed a “charge sheet” against the top-ranking police officer, who is known for not accommodating all demands of the provincial government, as the CM levelled serious allegations against the police.
Ranjhani, the city president of the JST, was killed by Abdul Rahim Shah, a Malir union committee chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, in Bhains Colony when the former allegedly tried to rob him at gunpoint.
In his letter, the CM stated that the videos of the Feb 6 incident available on social media portrayed “an inhuman and gory picture”.
“Apparently, Abdul Rahim Shah acted like the judge, jury and the executioner at the scene and violently flaunted the rule of the gun at the crime scene,” he said.
Police insist Ranjhani was killed in robbery incident; family rejects inquiry report
“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,” he stated.
‘Writ of state shaken’
The CM reminded the IGP that “this incident has 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 believed that the police force exhibited “an irresponsible attitude” and did not reach the scene in time, which resulted in the victim’s death before being shifted to hospital.
Mr Shah stated that while the police force had been exercising “complete autonomy in its administrative affairs”, its efficiency in discharge of duties was “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.
The CM pointed out that the people 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”.
Report sought in 48 hours
“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 CM said, adding: “As chief executive of the province, I shall not act as a bystander and watch the fiasco like above shatter the image of the provincial government.”
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 said incident, the IGP Sindh was directed to “expedite the investigation as per law/rules in vogue”.
The CM asked the IGP to fix responsibility on the delinquent officers/officials who “mishandled the entire incident from the beginning” and submit a report to him within 48 hours.
Police arrest UC chairman, suspend cop
Also on Monday, the police arrested Rahim Shah, the UC chairman, for blocking transportation to critically injured Irshad Ranjhani to a hospital.
They also suspended a sub-inspector for taking the wounded suspect to a police station instead of hospital.
Speaking at a press conference at the Malir SSP office, DIG East Amir Farooqui insisted that the deceased Ranjhani had a criminal record and he was arrested several times for his alleged involvement in crimes in the city.
The DIG, who heads an inquiry committee, said that the probe body had examined the time lag between the incident and time of reaching hospital. They also looked into the whole incident from cash withdrawal by the UC chairman from a private bank near Nursery and the firing incident. The inquiry team also assessed videos clips of post-firing reaction of people and the UC chairman gathered at the place, he added.
“There was a delay in [providing] medical attention, which should have been immediate,” the DIG conceded.
During the inquiry, it transpired that Rahim Shah blocked transportation for the injured to the hospital. “Therefore, he has been arrested and would be booked under Section 322 (manslaughter) of Pakistan Penal Code as law does not allow anyone to keep the injured [at] the crime scene,” he said.
The DIG said that SI Riaz Hussain was also suspended as he took Ranjhani to the Shah Latif Town police station for necessary paperwork instead of immediately shifting him to a hospital.
It caused a considerable delay and the injured was brought dead to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, he said.
He insisted that it was a robbery incident.
He also admitted that the UC chairman had a criminal record.
The DIG later told Dawn that the police were open to investigate anything which the close relatives of the deceased wanted to look into.
He said that the relatives did not appear before the inquiry team to record their statement on Monday.
Relatives reject police inquiry report
Political parties and civil society members, including women, staged a sit-in on main Sharea Faisal near Karsaz against the killing of Ranjhani.
Provincial ministers Saeed Ghani and Nasir Shah and senior police officers held talks with the protesters and relatives.
Mr Ghani informed politicians Sanan Qureshi and Dr Qadir Magsi and deceased’s brother Munawwar Ranjhani that the Sindh government had decided to register a murder case against the UC chairman and all police officers, including Shah Latif SHO, would be suspended and arrested on charges of negligence.
The deceased’s brother told media that his brother was “innocent” and the police registered “fake” cases against him.
Accusing police of “patronising” Rahim Shah, he rejected the findings of the inquiry team and termed it “partial”.
The sit-in caused a traffic jam on the main artery as the protesters blocked one track of Sharea Faisal leading to the city from airport. However, they have left a lane open for vehicles to move slowly.
The protesters announced that their sit-in would continue till copies of FIR against Rahim Shah were provided to them.
Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2019