KARACHI, Oct 2: At least 24 people were gunned down in the city on sectarian grounds in September, but the police force seems to be unmoved over the bloodletting and by treating the matter as routine.
The cases of sectarian killings are being dealt by the police station in whose jurisdiction killing takes place and no special branch of the police force has been dealing with them, police officials have told Dawn.
“The policemen at police stations are not skilled enough to tackle the routine cases, let alone detecting organised crime of sectarian killings,” remarked a senior investigator while requesting anonymity. “The crime investigation department (CID) essentially mandated to probe the sectarian killings, seems to be busy in other assignments these days.”
While the CID was supposed to look after cases pertaining to terrorism and sectarian killing, the more recently constituted Special Investigation Unit (SIU) was mandated to investigate cases of extortion, police killings and bank heists.
Similarly, Anti-Violent Crime Cell and Anti-Car Lifting Cell were supposed to probe kidnapping cases for ransom and vehicular crime respectively.
During its heydays in the early 2000s the CID, whose model was adopted from Punjab where it was pioneered, did conduct successful investigations into sectarian murders. However, now its role seems to have reduced to providing technical assistance to the police stations for solving the sectarian killings.
“We are not investigating the cases of sectarian killings since we are short of manpower,” said SP Investigation CID Mazhar Mashwani.
“The investigations are carried out by the police stations themselves under the supervision of the SP Investigation of the range.
We only provide technical assistance when required.”
The SP Investigations have been recently posted in the three police ranges only after serious lapses and apathy were witnessed in the investigations of the routine cases.
The separate investigation branch of the police was done away with when the Police Order 2002 was replaced by Police Act of 1861, hence the additional station house officers of the police stations are supposed to handle sectarian cases as well with the routine, said the officials.
Earlier in the year, from January till August, at least 76 people were targeted on sectarian grounds. The killing spree continued in September, not only for individuals but also for families. There were assassination attempts on four different families.
The police, so far, have only arrested what they describe an activist of Sipah-i-Mohammad, who according to them was involved in the killing of seven Deobandi men at Disco Mor.
Besides this lone arrest, the police don’t seem to have discovered any leads into other numerous killings which took place in the city.
An overwhelming number of sectarian killings have taken place in District Central, where as incidents also took place in district East and West as well.
“So far, a pattern of helmet wearing assassins using 9mm pistols has been witnessed in the on-going sectarian killings,” observed SP Liaquatabad Division Syed Salman Ahmed.