KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday decided to detain five citizens acquitted in the murder case of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) director Perween Rahman citing a police report suggesting that they were “hardened criminals and imminent threat to her family and OPP staff. The recommendation to detain the acquitted citizens was made through a letter written by the Sindh inspector general on the basis of an intelligence report.

While Ms Rehman’s sister, Aquila Islam (who is now heading the OPP) welcomed the decision, police officials said the five acquitted citizens had already been set free after high court’s order for their release from prison. They have not been detained again, according to the police.

Welcoming the government’s decision, Ms Aquila Islam said she and OPP staff had been scared and under stress while seeing the freed suspects moving around, near the project office.

She pointed out that most of the OPP employees lived within the area, Orangi, where these suspects also lived. The decision to invoke the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) to keep these suspects under detention would give us space to file an appeal against their free movement, she added.

According to an order issued by the home department on Thursday, the Sindh IGP through a letter dated November 25 communicated that the five acquitted persons were ‘hardened criminals’ and posed ‘imminent threat’ to the family of deceased Perween Rahman, specially her sister Aquila Islam, who works as the chairperson of the OPP, and the entire staff of the project.

The provincial police chief in his letter also cited an ‘intelligence report’ suggesting that the lives of her family members were in ‘danger.’

The acquitted persons may disturb peace and tranquility and may create serious law and order problems; such an act on their behalf will be highly prejudicial to the public safety and maintenance of public order, according to the contents of the letter.

The IGP recommended to the Sindh government to detain the five acquitted persons — Mohammed Amjad Husain, Ayaz Ali Swati, Ahmed Ali alias Papu, Mohammed Raheem Swati and Mohammed Imran Swati — under MPO, 1960 for three months, at least.

The government of Sindh on the basis of the request and considering merit of the case is satisfied that there are serious apprehensions about public safety, read the home department order.

“Their custody shall be placed under the Senior Superintendent of Central Prison, Karachi.”

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2022

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