KARACHI: Five suspects were shot dead in an alleged police encounter in Defence Housing Authority early on Friday morning.
However, the incident became controversial as a local leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claimed that one of the deceased was her family driver for years and he was “taken away from their home and later killed along with four others”.
In a statement, police claimed that those killed in the encounter were members of a notorious gang which was involved in several house robberies.
Gizri SHO Agha Mashooq said that the suspects entered a bungalow near Imambargah Yasrab in Phase IV. When the police surrounded the house, the suspects entered another bungalow while resorting to firing in their bid to escape. During an exchange of gunfire, all the five suspects got killed.
He claimed that the deceased belonged to an “inter-provincial gang of house robbers” as they were involved in house robberies in both Sindh and Punjab.
Dr Seemin Jamali, the executive director of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), said the suspects were brought dead to the hospital.
PTI leader whose driver is among the dead casts doubt over incident
The police said four of the five dead were identified as Mohammad Abbas, Ghulam Mustafa, Mohammad Abid and Mohammad Riaz while the fifth one could not be identified till late in the night.
The South police in a statement said that in the wake of growing incidents of house robberies, two different teams were set up to eliminate a “dacoit gang”.
It said the police were patrolling on 5th Commercial Street in DHA, Phase-IV when they tried to stop and search a Vigo vehicle upon suspicion. The suspects abandoned the vehicle and entered a bungalow by scaling its boundary wall. The police also chased and entered the said house, where the suspects opened fire on the police.
The statement said that the police retaliated in “self-defence,” wounding five suspects who died while being taken to a hospital.
The police named the group of five as the “Seraiki gang” and said its ringleader, Ghulam Mustafa, was also killed.
They said six other members of the gang were already in jail.
“This Seraiki gang, as per their modes operandi, sought information from house servants and carried out robberies at an appropriate time,” said the police statement.
It said that the same gang was involved in a robbery at the DHA residence of former chief minister Ali Mohammed Mahar as well as more than 20 such crimes in district South.
The police claimed to have recovered five pistols and four CNICs from them.
PTI leader terms encounter fake
PTI leader Laila Parveen and her husband, Advocate Ali Hasnain, alleged that it was a fake encounter as police detained their driver, Abbas, from their home and killed him along with four others.
In their social media posts, the couple, which is currently in Islamabad, said the Vigo vehicle the police seized from the suspect also belonged to them.
Ms Parveen said her mother- and sister-in-law were present at their house when the policemen, some in plain clothes, arrived at 4.30am and took away their driver Abbas.
Her husband said their driver worked with them for the last five years and he was a “gentleman”.
“There was no record that my vehicle was used in crimes ... there is also no criminal record of my driver,” he said. “I did not know [the] four other persons killed by the police in fake encounter.”
He said his mother and a neighbour offered resistance when the police tried to get hold of his driver. He said the police misbehaved with his mother.
He said there were CCTV cameras installed at his house and if the police did not destroy the same, all facts would emerge from the footage.
The PTI leader said their driver was innocent and demanded justice.
Medical board formed
JPMC’s additional police surgeon Summaiya Syed told Dawn that after the controversy, she decided to set up a medical board to re-examine the bodies.
She said besides her, forensic expert Dr Farhat Mirza and medico-legal officer Dr Sikander, who initially carried out the post-mortem examination, would be part of the board.
Meanwhile, the police statement was silent about charges levelled by the PTI leader.
Two senior police officers, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that they did not want to become part of a “political debate”.
Police sources said that senior police officers had invited the PTI leader and her husband to seek their statement about the incident.
They added that the call data record of deceased Abbas’ mobile phone showed that he had remained in touch with the said gang.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2020