KARACHI, May 14: Three suspected bandits were first ruthlessly beaten up by enraged people of the area and then set on fire on the main Nishtar Road as police stood by watching the crowd let the suspects being burnt to death, witnesses said.

Police, however, offered a different version of the series of events. The area people reportedly stopped Edhi volunteers from rescuing the suspects while flames engulfed them.

Police said four bandits entered a third-floor flat in Sumaiya Karim Palace on Nishtar Road in the Eidgah police limits.

They looted valuables from the apartment and shot an occupant when he offered resistance. They then fled. The victim’s family raised alarm, telling the neighbouring people about the robbers.

As the suspects tried to escape in the narrow streets, opening fire on people chasing them, they were also fired at by their pursuers.

The suspects sustained bullet wounds and were finally cornered by the chasers.

Once they were caught, the suspects were mercilessly beaten up by the crowd. They were hit by people with everything available to them at that moment. Iron rods, batons, bricks, kicks and punches rained on the suspects.

It is not clear if the three suspects had died before they were finally set on fire or had died from burns.

Eyewitnesses told Dawn that the suspects were in an extremely precarious condition when they were set on fire.

After placing the suspects on the main Nishtar Road close to the Risala police station, people drew petrol from motorcycles and poured it on them before setting them on fire.

Some people among the enraged crowd tried to stop people from setting fire to the suspects, but sanity found few takers.

Witnesses said police were unable to prevent the immolation of the suspects and only forced their way in when all was over.

Two suspects had died on the spot while the third one died later in the Civil Hospital. The third suspect was identified as Babar, but there was confusion about his identity, police said.

Eyewitnesses said two suspects were placed parallel to each other while the third one lay with his feet stretched to the other two.

Two of the suspects suffered burns in the upper body, including chest, face and hands, while the third suspect suffered burns on his legs.

Some people suspected that the three suspects were linked with either of the Lyari gangs, but this assumption could not be confirmed.

The area DSP, however, claimed that an encounter with the bandits took place during which they sustained bullet wounds.

Answering a question as to who set the suspects on fire, DSP Malik Mazhar told the media that the suspects fell on their faces on oil spilled on the road, which blackened their faces.

Saddar SP Dr Amir Shaikh ruled out that the suspects were set on fire after they had been doused with petrol. “It was actually a tandoor-walla who hit the suspects with a burning stick, igniting their clothes”, SP Shaikh told Dawn.

He said initially he had also heard the report that kerosene was used in setting the suspects on fire, but that was not true.

Quoting the doctors, SP Shaikh said the suspects suffered 40 to 50 per cent burns, but also had bullet wounds.

Answering a question if there was a possibility of any legal action against people who set the three suspected robbers on fire, the Saddar SP said police could certainly go after those people on the complaint of the heirs of the three dead suspects.

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