Police investigators probing the brutal murder of Nazimuddin Jokhio at a PPP MPA's farmhouse in Karachi's Malir area on Sunday claimed to have made significant progress in the case, saying the victim’s mobile phone and clothes had been recovered from a dry well near the lawmaker's residence.
Meanwhile, Nazim's family expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the probe body and demanded the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) and protection, alleging that the suspects were threatening them with dire consequences in order to pressure them to withdraw the case and enter into a "compromise".
The family also urged police authorities to treat the murder as an act of terror because, they said, the motive of the "influential persons (waderas)" nominated in the case was to trigger fear and panic among the poor so that no one could challenge their power.
Nazim Jokhio was found tortured to death at the farmhouse of PPP MPA Jam Awais on November 3. The victim’s family accuses the MPA and his henchmen of torturing him to death for resisting houbara bustard hunting by the lawmaker’s Arab guests in Nazim’s Achar Salaar village in Malir district.
A senior police officer, who wished not to be named, told Dawn that MPA Awais's guards, who are among the arrested suspects, had revealed that they had thrown Nazim's cell phone and clothes in a well near Jam House — Awais's farmhouse — in Memon Goth, Malir. On this indication, investigators recovered "some pieces" of the mobile phone and clothes from the well which were burnt. According to the officer, it was a dry well where garbage was being dumped.
The cell phone will be sent to a forensic lab in Lahore for analysis. Police termed the recovery as a significant development as it could help identify the people who allegedly threatened the victim after he made a video of the hunters in the outskirts of Karachi and uploaded it to social media.
The officer said it was possible that the suspects had set the garbage on fire to destroy the evidence.
Police will now also invoke the relevant section of the law against the suspects on charges of destroying the evidence. The officer said that call data record already obtained by investigators had confirmed the presence of MPA Awais and his elder brother MNA Jam Karim Jokhio, who has secured pre-arrest bail, at the crime scene.
The police officer further said the complainant, deceased Nazim's brother Afzal Jokhio, was their "star witness" as he was reportedly accompanying Nazim when the latter was brought to Jam House on the night between Nov 2 and 3. Additionally, the family has also provided another witness in the case, he added.
Family demands JIT
In another development, complainant Afzal has called for setting up a JIT and expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the team formed by the East DIG to investigate the case.
In a letter to the Sindh inspector general, seen by Dawn.com, Afzal said that he was "not satisfied" with the JIT formed by the East DIG on Nov 4 and the investigation officer as no "proper investigation" of the primary suspect — MPA Awais — had taken place so far. Besides, he said, the clothes, slippers, mobile phone and wallet of the victim, which were allegedly in the possession of MPA Awais, had not been recovered.
The complainant also believed that the current JIT was treating Awais as an MPA (rather than a suspect) and that he appeared to be a "special guest of honour" for the investigators.
Afzal further said police had not included any foreigner in the case nor conducted any investigation regarding Awais's foreign guests. He stated that police had also not made any efforts to arrest MNA Jam Karim or for the recovery of the vehicles used by the foreigners, the vehicle used for "kidnapping" Nazim, the vehicle used by suspect Saleem Salar to proceed with him (Afzal) to Jam House, and other evidence related to the killing.
He also demanded that Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, be included in the FIR in addition to other relevant sections of the Pakistan Penal Code as "this act of murder was carried out with the intention of creating terror in the poor downtrodden villages, so that no one can challenge their (the suspects') atrocities and wrongdoings in the future."
The complainant urged the provincial police chief to constitute a JIT that would also include representatives of other law-enforcement agencies.
Afzal also stated in his letter that he was receiving "serious threats of dire consequences" from the suspects to pressure him into "withdrawing the case and entering into a compromise", and demanded security for himself as well as other witnesses and lawyers in the case.
Police refute charges
Meanwhile, a senior member of the police probe told Dawn.com on condition of anonymity that the city police had already provided police guards to the victim’s family. He said the police JIT comprising eight members, including three SSPs, had visited the victim’s home near Ghaghar Phatak and recorded the family's statement. The investigation officer too visited their home three or four times, he added.
Regarding the inclusion of foreigners in the case, the officer said it had not been established that the foreigners were present during the hunting session. He added that police had reports that an "advance party" for the foreign guests had gone to the area when the incident took place. Besides, it was not in police's purview to investigate the purported foreigners.
“The murder case was limited to Jam House in Malir," the officer emphasised. He recalled that the complainant had initially nominated five suspects including MPA Awais and four of them had been arrested. “The main suspect is Jam Awais and three others who allegedly beat up and killed the young man,” the officer said.