KARACHI: While the killing of 20-month-old Mohammed Ahsan during an alleged encounter near busy Safoora Chowk on Tuesday evening has once again exposed growing differences between the Sindh government and police, the situation is likely to become more challenging for the law enforcement agency as the forensic lab suggested that the toddler was killed by a bullet fired from the weapon of a policeman, it emerged on Saturday.
However, investigators argued that the evidence connected with the bandits might have been destroyed since the crime scene was on main University Road and situated at a busy commercial area also linking with Superhighway and M.M. Alam Road being used by hundreds of vehicles every day.
Also, the Counter-Terrorism Department of the police formally launched investigation into the toddler’s death after the inspector general of police transferred the case from Malir district police to the CTD to ensure an impartial and fair probe.
The IGP transfers the probe to CTD on the request of the victim’s family
CTD DIG Abdullah Shaikh, who was leading the probe, told Dawn that one spent bullet casing collected from the crime scene was sent to the police’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
The lab report confirmed that the spent bullet casing matched with the weapon of a policeman identified as Amjad, revealed the CTD official.
To a question, DIG Shaikh said that it could not be said conclusively at this stage that the bullet fired by policeman caused the death of the toddler.
Another police officer who wished not to be named told Dawn that “most probably” it was the bullet fired by the policeman which might have caused the toddler’s death.
However, a probe was still under way and it may not be advisable to draw a final conclusion merely on the basis of a spent bullet casing found from the crime scene.
CTD team meets family
DIG Shaikh, who is leading the probe, met with the victim’s family, visited the crime scene for investigation purpose and recorded statements of the policemen on Saturday. The CTD also took custody of four arrested policemen for investigation purpose, said the DIG CTD.
Mr Shaikh said initial probe revealed contradictions in statement of the policemen and it appeared that the local police was not interested in proper investigation of the case.
Both the Sachal SHO and SIO told the CTD team that only two shots were fired — one each by police and suspects. The CTD expressed doubts about this version.
Mr Shaikh said one bullet hit the chest of Ahsan, who was sitting in the lap of his father, Kashif who also received one bullet wound on his left leg.
It was not possible that the same bullet hit the father.
The CTD DIG said Kashif got treatment from the JPMC but Sachal police did not even get his medico-legal report, which indicated their lack of interest in pursuing the case properly. Besides, the Sachal police also did not get statement of the driver of the rickshaw in which the family travelled and did not examine it as there might be spent bullet casings.
Moreover, the area SHO has reportedly changed his statement/stance three times.
The CTD team also met with the victim’s parents and grandfather.
The deceased’s mother said that at least eight to 10 bullets were fired.
The parents reiterated their earlier stance that there was no exchange of fire between the police and the suspects. Instead, four policemen quarrelled with each and resorted to firing, which resulted in the death of the minor boy.
Probe transferred on victim’s family request
Karachi police chief Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh told Dawn that the case was transferred from the Malir police to CTD on the request of the complainant party.
He said that on the very first day, he assigned the inquiry to the DIG CTD and SSP South Pir Mohammed Shah on the request of the victim’s family as both senior officers were “familiar” with them as they had served in the family’s native town, Larkana, and they had more trust on them.
“We are very sorry over the tragic loss of an innocent life,” regretted the city police chief. “We are doing our best to improve the training standard of the police and have included army for training purpose.”
He admitted that certain policemen had an “issue” of lack of proper training and the policemen in the field would be trained for what to do or not to do while fighting criminals in markets or busy places to avoid such tragedies in future.
He revealed that during four months of the current year, total 138 police encounters took place in the city. As many as 10 alleged criminals were gunned down while 28 suspects were wounded. During these encounters, two police officers were also killed and four others wounded.
“Unfortunately, two citizens died during these police encounters,” he said. “As many as 11 police personnel were arrested for their criminal negligence.”
Earlier on Friday, the IGP, through a notification, transferred the investigation of the case (FIR No. 211/2019) of the Sachal police of district Malir to the CTD Sindh with immediate effect “to ensure impartial investigation, early detection, and finalisation of the case on merit”.
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019