Perween Rahman had identified ‘land grabbers’ before murder, court told

Published March 13, 2021
Former head of OPP Perween Rahman had been gunned down in Orangi Town in 2013. — Jutice for Parween Rehman/File
Former head of OPP Perween Rahman had been gunned down in Orangi Town in 2013. — Jutice for Parween Rehman/File

KARACHI: Perween Rahman had identified and named “land grabbers and extortionists” for trying to illegally occupy the land of the office of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in an interview recorded around 15 months before she was allegedly killed by the same group.

This was disclosed in a supplementary charge sheet filed with the ATC-VII by the fifth joint investigation team constituted on the directives of the Supreme Court to probe the high-profile murder afresh.

Five accused — Abdul Raheem Swati, his son Mohammad Imran Swati, Ayaz Shamzai, aka Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan and Ahmed Khan aka Ahmed Ali aka Pappu Kashmiri — have been charged with murdering her.

The then OPP head was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.

The victim’s sister, Aquila Ismail, had expressed dissatisfaction in the Sindh police and requested the apex court to order the federal government to constitute a JIT under the supervision of the Federal Investigation Agency.

During the hearing, DIG Police Babur Bakht Qureshi, the director of the JIT, supervised by the FIA’s Counter-Terrorism Wing, filed the supplementary charge sheet, stating that the JIT members had not only examined the already available record, but also probed the case with regard to suspected involvement of the water and land mafia in the killing of Perween Rahman.

Former head of OPP had been gunned down in Orangi Town in 2013

The JIT had also included politicians, journalists and land developers among the people interrogated during the course of fresh investigation, it added.

It had emerged that during an interview conducted by a freelance journalist, Fahad Deshmukh, Perween Rahman had mentioned having a dispute with the accused, Rahim Swati, who wanted to set up a karate centre on the land of the OPP office.

In the interview, Perween Rahman had called Rahim Swati a “land grabber and extortionist” and stated that the latter wanted to illegally occupy the land of the OPP’s office, the charge sheet stated.

It further stated that statement of journalist Fahad Deshmukh was recorded by the JIT under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code (CrPC), who said that he had known Perween Rahman whom he had met around thrice while he was working for the Express Media Group.

The journalist further said that he had interviewed Perween Rahman in the office of the OPP in December 2011, which was partially aired on “Public Radio International” of America in January 2012.

The journalist further said that he had once again shared the audio of the interview on social media after her assassination in 2013.

Mr Deshmukh verified the contents of the interview, the charge sheet stated, adding that the (interview) audio was sent to a laboratory for forensic examination.

The charge sheet concluded that in light of the evidence and statements of the witnesses, it emerged that Perween Rahman was murdered by Rahim Swati and his accomplices.

JIT’s original reports submitted

During the hearing, DIG CTD Omar Shahid Hamid also appeared and submitted the original report of a JIT constituted under his supervision in 2018.

Separately, the investigating officer of the case Inspector Fariduddin also submitted original reports of three other JITs, which were constituted to probe the murder.

FIA assistant directors Rehmatullah Domki and Khalid Hussain Shaikh were also present.

The judge directed the office to keep the original reports of the JITs (in all five) in safe custody of the court.

He fixed the matter on March 20 for further proceedings and hearing on the JITs reports.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2021

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