KARACHI: More than 24 hours after a video footage showed Rangers personnel shooting to death from point-blank range an unarmed young man in Karachi, efforts made on Thursday to bring the perpetrators to justice appeared to be poorly coordinated, with the federal interior minister announcing the setting up of a joint investigation team, the chief of the paramilitary force declaring that an in-house inquiry board would be established and the police investigators still waiting for senior’s permission to initiate a process for determining the facts of the case.
The accused personnel, Rangers DG Major General Ejaz Chaudary said, had already been arrested by the paramilitary force after the video footage went on air and they would face an inquiry board headed by a brigadier.
“We have arrested all the six suspects, who were in the mobile deputed outside the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Park,” he told a group of media personnel. “In this particular incident, there was sheer negligence on the part of the Rangers officials. I would also tell you to get our inquiry completed. Once it’s over, every fact would be shared with you and people.”
He said the Rangers had the responsibility of maintaining peace in the city and they play their role in the line of their duty and opened fire only in self-defence.
“There is a negligence in this particular case and let me assure you that anyone found involved in our inquiry would face action in line with the defined laws,” he added.
For many, the video left no margin for investigation, rather questioning of the suspects for the motive behind the firing. Even to the adviser to prime minister on human rights, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, it was an ‘open and shut case’.
“I don’t think that there would be any need for such a lengthy investigation into the incident after the footages came on record,” he told reporters after meeting the family of Sarfaraz Shah, the victim of Rangers’ shooting.
The video aired on local news channels showed a man in civilian clothes holding Sarfaraz by his hair and kicking him towards a group of about half a dozen Rangers personnel. A soldier pointed his rifle at Shah’s neck and the latter pleaded for mercy.
“I am helpless,” he could be heard in the video.
The men surrounded Shah and as he moved towards one with his arms outstretched, he was pushed back and shot twice in the hand and leg. A longer version of the video posted on YouTube and social networking websites showed Sarfaraz lying on the ground, screaming and requesting the Rangers to take him to hospital.
The facts exposed by the video, however, failed to convince the authorities to make coordinated efforts to ensure justice and satisfy millions of citizens who watched the video, and thereby help the armed and paramilitary forces facing severe criticism after the Abbottabad raid, Kharotabad incident and the deadly attack on PNS Mehran, avoid another controversy.
“The probe into the matter will ensure transparency and the findings of the JIT will be made public and investigation will be done in a transparent manner,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik while talking to newsmen after presiding over a meeting at the Chief Minister’s House to review the city’s law and order. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the Rangers DG, Sindh IG Fayyaz Leghari and representatives of intelligence agencies attended the meeting.
He said there was no doubt about the video clips and it was ‘totally an injustice’ on the part of the Rangers personnel. He said the law would take its own course. The minister, however, did not explain why the investigation process had been launched by different institutions separately whereas the main investigative organisation – city police – in such cases remained directionless.
“Since the Sindh Rangers is a paramilitary institution, there is some internal process or inquiry going on,” said DIG Investigation Iftikhar Tarar. “The suspects have not yet been handed over to police by the Rangers. It may hardly take a week and then they will be handed over to police for further investigations. By the time, we will gather more evidences and facts related to the case.”
Cameraman receives threat:
A cameraman who recorded the shooting to death of an unarmed youngster by Rangers personnel received threats on Thursday from unknown callers, according to the organisation he works for and media houses and journalist bodies.
The cameraman of Awaz TV, a Sindhi news and entertainment channel, started receiving threatening calls on Thursday morning after the footage he had recorded was broadcast by almost all news channels.
“We informed Interior Minister Rehman Malik and officials of the Sindh government about the threat. Despite assurances about security given by them no measure has been taken to protect his life,” said Zaryab Khaskheli, the assistant news director of Awaz TV.
He said the cameraman had done his duty and not violated any rule or law.
The situation also set alarm bells ringing in media organisations and journalist bodies which criticised the increasing threat faced by people gathering and disseminating news.