Row between Sindh govt, police intensifies after toddler’s killing

Updated April 18, 2019


Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah offering Fateha after condoling with the father of the child killed by police fire. — APP
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah offering Fateha after condoling with the father of the child killed by police fire. — APP

KARACHI: The family of 20-month-old boy Mohammed Ahsan, who was killed during an alleged shootout between police and muggers in the Sachal area on Tuesday, has rejected police version about the ‘encounter’ and demanded a probe by a joint investigation team (JIT).

The victim’s father was also injured in the incident.

As the inspector general of Sindh police and the city police chief offered an apology to the family of the child who died on Tuesday and to relatives of the other people killed in similar ‘encounters’ recently, police came under severe criticism by top officials of the provincial government, who raised serious questions over police performance.

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Four policemen allegedly involved in the incident have been arrested.

Talking to the media after the funeral prayers for Ahsan on Wednesday, his grandfather rejected the police claim that the child had died during an exchange of fire between suspected robbers and police near Safoora Chowrangi.

Four policemen held as top officials offer apology; family demands JIT; CM raises questions over police performance

The grandfather claimed that there was no robber present at the site of the incident nor any encounter took place there. He said the policemen had quarrelled with each other and resorted to firing, which claimed the life of his grandson.

Sindh Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani supported the demands of the victim’s family, claiming police had become ‘uncontrollable’ and called for accountability of police for “continuously killing innocent persons”.

The Sachal police have registered an FIR against unidentified suspects and the arrested policemen namely Piyar Ali, Khalid Iqbal, Abdul Samad and Amjad Khan on the complaint of the victim’s father Kashif Raja Shaikh under sections 324 (attempt to commit qatl-i-amd), 304 (proof of qatl-i-amd liable to qisas, etc.) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

According to the complainant, he along with his wife and children had gone to University Road to purchase something and then hired a rickshaw to return home in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Block-8 when suddenly they heard sound of firing.

“My son, who was in my lap, made a movement and lowered his head and my wife said Ahsan was bleeding,” Mr Shaikh said in the FIR. “I saw that my son was bleeding from his chest and took him to nearby Memon Medical Institute where doctors pronounced the child dead.”

Mr Shaikh, who was hit by a bullet in the leg, said he had seen four policemen riding two motorcycles who were carrying out firing “recklessly”.

Arshad Husain Shaikh, a relative of Kashif Shaikh, claimed that the FIR was not exactly based on the statement of the family and demanded registration of the case under section 302 (murder) and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

However, DIG East Amir Farooqi rejected Mr Arshad’s claim and said the family was relative of former DIG Mazhar Shaikh and the victim’s father has recorded a statement in his (former DIG’s) presence, which was incorporated in the FIR.

DIG Farooqi said the four held policemen in their statement claimed that they had fired only one shot at fleeing muggers whom they were chasing. The policemen claimed they were at behind the rickshaw and a bullet fired from its front side could have hit the child.

DIG Farooqi said only one spent bullet casing fired with a 9mm pistol has been recovered from the crime scene, which has been sent to police’s forensic science laboratory to ascertain whose firing caused the death of the child.

When told that the Sachal police had come to know about the incident after considerable delay, the DIG admitted that after the incident the policemen had gone to their place of deployment and the area police came to know about the incident later.

Additional Inspector General of Karachi Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh said he had constituted a team led by DIG of Counter Terrorism Department Abdullah Shaikh and comprising South SSP Pir Mohammed Shah to probe the incident.

IG Sindh Dr Syed Kaleem Imam said heavy weapons had been taken from policemen and they would be given training for using small weapons (pistols).

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that police force is an independent institution but “this doesn’t mean that they have the license to kill innocent people.

Talking to the media in Gulistan-i-Jauhar where he went to condole with Kashif Shaikh on the death of his son, the CM said the incident was caused by “criminal negligence on the part of the policemen involved” and asked the family to get an FIR registered according to their wishes. The family would be provided justice, the chief minister assured.

In reply to a question, he said that police were under administrative control of the Sindh government but some “insertions and deletions” in the relevant law had disturbed the control of the provincial government on the force.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019