Police on Sunday said that they consider the killing of a teenage boy by an angry mob in Karachi, an act of terror and will invoke Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act, 1997 against those involved, as they arrested three more suspects in the case.
On Saturday, a 16-year-old alleged thief was beaten to death by an enraged crowd in Bahadurabad following an alleged attempt at theft.
He was tortured and killed publicly, with the brutal acts recorded on video, triggering fear and anger among the people.
The boy's family has also demanded that a terror case be registered against two suspects that were arrested yesterday and others involved, said Ferozabad SHO Aurangzeb Khattak on Sunday.
On Sunday evening, DIG East Amir Farooqi told Dawn that three more suspects had been arrested, bringing the total up to five.
The senior officer added that the held suspects can be seen in the videos in which the teenager is being tortured.
“We are going after the rest,” vowed DIG Farooqi.
The investigators are currently exchanging views with the prosecution about changing the relevant section of the law and adding Section 7-ATA in the case.
SHO Khattak said that on the night of the incident, police had arrested the house owner along with his neighbour and registered an FIR against them under Section 316 (punishment for Qatl shibh-i-amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The section says "whoever commits qatl shibh-i-amd shall be liable to diyat and may also be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to twenty-five years as ta'zir."
The social media outcry against the death of the teenager also prompted the Sindh chief minister to take notice who urged police to take immediate action.
SHO Khattak said that two people — one of whom was the deceased boy — had entered a home in Kokan Society ostensibly with the intention of committing theft as per the statement given to police by the family of one of the held suspects.
One of them managed to escape while the residents got ahold of the other. Soon after, the area residents gathered and subjected him to severe beating before the arrival of the law enforcers who took him into custody.
The boy was shifted to Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi said that the teenager’s body was brought to the JPMC at around 3:30pm.
His post-mortem examination was carried out and the cause of death was declared as head injury “due to torture by a hard and blunt object”.
There were “multiple torture marks on the body,” added Dr Abbasi.
The deceased boy was identified as Rehan, 16, s/o Zohair, a resident of Khudadad Colony.
The boy's family told the media at the hospital that the teenager was a "butcher" who had slaughtered sacrificial animals and had gone there to take service charges when he was "mistaken" for a thief and was killed.
The held suspects in the initial probe told the police that they did not kill the boy. It was the area residents who had gathered there to beat him to death, they claimed. The police are trying to ascertain the identity of others involved.
Regarding the videos circulating on social media, the area SHO confirmed that it was true that the boy was tied and beaten inside the home and someone had made videos of the incident.
About the claims made by the boy's family, SHO Khattak confirmed that the teenager worked as a "butcher" but added that he had a past criminal record also. The boy was twice arrested by Bahadurabad police in the recent past over cases of theft, he said.
However, the SHO vowed that since the people had taken the law into their hands, they would be taken to task.
He disclosed that the held suspects will be presented before the administrative judge of the antiterrorism court on Monday to seek their physical remand for investigation purposes.
The officer said that the police will invoke Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act of 1997 against the suspects and it would be up to the court whether to treat it as a terror case or not.