ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court hearing the murder case of Perween Rehman, director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) Karachi, has regretted that law-enforcement agencies seem helpless before land and water mafias.

“It is regrettable that those who were doing social work selflessly were killed by these mafias,” observed Justice Umar Ata Bandial while heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench on Tuesday.

Had the law-enforcement agencies no control over these mafias, questioned Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, also a member of the bench.

On Tuesday, the apex court gave two months to current head of the joint investigation team (JIT) which is investigating the case, Director of Counter­terrorism Wing in the Federal Investigation Age­ncy Babar Bukht Qureshi, for completing the probe. The court also restrained Mr Qureshi’s transfer or posting until the job is done.

The direction came when the court was informed that the previous head of the JIT had been transferred.

The court ordered the new JIT head to furnish an interim investigation report within three weeks for perusal in chambers.

Mr Qureshi informed the court that there were no major developments in the probe and pleaded before the court that more time be given to his team for investigation. He conceded that no data could be retrieved since geo-fencing was not possible as the incident took place six years ago.

Ms Rehman was killed when she was going from her office to home on March 13, 2013. Assailants on a motorcycle chased her car on the main Manghopir Road near Banaras Flyover and opened fire on her. She received bullet injuries in her neck. Her driver rushed her to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where she died during treatment.

Advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh is representing Aquila Ismail, sister of Ms Rehman, before the Supreme Court.

During the hearing Justice Ahsan deplored that the matter was turning into a mystery since six years had already gone by.

The JIT had been constituted because law-enforcement agencies were not doing their job, Justice Ahsan regretted and questioned what these agencies had been doing since 2013.

On April 24, a report of the JIT led by its previous head had pointed at the root cause behind the murder, saying that efforts of Mr Rehman was making it difficult for land developers to grab the land populated by Goth dwellers.

The JIT had named three groups which might have involvement in the murder of Ms Rehman: the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and other Jihadi elements who were against the vision of Ms Rehman; the illegal water and hydrant mafia which saw her work as a threat to their business; and organised crime groups who were involved in land grabbing because she was striving to help residents of Gothabad Schemes to secure their land rights.

Ms Rehman through her organisation, Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), was helping people living in areas on the outskirts of Karachi to attain their legal land rights, the report had acknowledged, adding she was an ardent compiler of the record of lands which were on the fringes of the city in the shape of villages or Goths.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd , 2019