LAHORE, May 5: Endorsing the observations of its fact-finding mission that probed the murder of four political activists in Sanghar district a fortnight ago, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Thursday expressed shock and disgust at police callousness and called upon the Sindh government to immediately hold a judicial probe into the murders.

On April 21, three activists of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) were killed when more than a dozen armed men ambushed their vehicle in Sanghar. The attackers, some of them in security agencies' uniform, later on set the JSMM activists' car on fire.

A fourth activist in the car suffered serious burn injuries and died in a hospital in Karachi on April 30.“The HRCP mission finds reason to believe that the four political activists were killed in a premeditated manner, either by security forces personnel or in collusion with them.” The mission received reports of the police failure to help the only JSMM activist who had survived the initial attack as he pleaded to be rescued from the burning car. In fact, policemen had allegedly tried to prevent the local people from rescuing the activist by telling them that he was a terrorist.

The fact-finding mission reported that at least some of the attackers were in official security agencies' uniforms, the police had taken their time to get to the attack site, little had been done to prevent the escape of the attackers and the half-hearted attempts at investigating the horrendous crime needed to be probed in a transparent judicial inquiry.

It noted that the assailants had attacked the activists' car without provocation and targeted them in such a manner as to ensure that none of them survived. The car was later torched to ensure that evidence of the grisly killings was destroyed.

The HRCP said the callous attitude of the police on the day of the attack and afterwards was nothing short of scandalous and merited closer scrutiny. It shared the mission's concern that the Sanghar carnage had the potential and might well be an attempt to create tensions between the native Sindhi and settler population in the province.

It expressed serious alarm at the lack of urgency shown in holding a credible and thorough probe into the matter.

The Commission said serious measures were all the more crucial amid fears that this might be the beginning of Balochistan-style killings in Sindh. It said Pakistan must learn lessons from past experience about the price it had to pay for actions of trigger-happy security personnel and for countering political dissent with unlawful use of force.

It demanded that the provincial government must hold an independent and expeditious judicial inquiry into the brutal murders and make the findings public. It also called upon the government to bring the killers to justice to prevent recurrence of such brazen attacks on political activists.