ISLAMABAD, Nov 12: Sindh Police have started probing land grabbers allegedly involved in the murder of Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) former director Parveen Rahman.
“A questionnaire has been sent to the Board of Revenue Sindh to find out the details of Katchi Abadis, record of land grabbers and land mafia,” Deputy IG west zone Karachi has said in the progress report submitted in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The report has also provided details of the 5th session of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) held on October 15 regarding the murder case, the copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.
Giving details of the JIT meeting, the report says a representative of Intelligence Bureau (IB) briefed that the process of regularisation of Katchi Abadies and goths was stalled since Rahman’s assassination, pointing to the involvement of those benefitting from land mafia.
Similarly, representative of special branch briefed the JIT and said that investigations had revealed that land grabbers affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Naseebullah Kakar and Thorani Afghani did not like Rahman because she was active against land grabbers, tankers mafia and also supported NGOs in the anti-polio vaccination campaign.
Rehman was murdered in Karachi on March 13, 2013.
The special branch representative further said that the place of Rahman’s murder, near Pakhtoon market in Manghopir, is under the influence of Abid Muchar and Shamsur Rahman groups of the TTP, who were also apprehensive of Rahman’s growing social activities.
Meanwhile, the three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk while resuming the case hearing on Wednesday directed the Sindh Police to arrest all culprits involved in the murder within a month.
Justice Dost Muhammad Khan observed that there were clues that land mafia is involved in Rahman’s murder but no investigation had been carried out in this regard previously.
He asked the police to investigate groups against regularisation of Katchi Abadies.
During the hearing, DIG CID Sultan Khawaja told the bench that IB was asked about the details of nine people suspected to be involved in the case.
Khawaja added that Pakistan People’s Party leader Taj Haider had told to the investigation team that Rahman had with her a map of land which had been allegedly occupied by wings of different political parties.
The chief justice, though, asked the DIG to focus on the murder case only.
The DIG further said that a person named Raheem Sawati was obstructing her social welfare work but he has left Karachi now, adding that police was trying to trace him.
The chief justice observed that no doubt, the case is difficult but not impossible.
The court directed that the investigation should continue, with a focus on finding the real culprits. It asked for another progress report to be filed in the next hearing scheduled for December 15.
A game of land?
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and 11 other petitioners had, through their counsel Reheel Kamran Sheikh, previously submitted that they suspected the JIT was deliberately ignoring the presence of land mafia because of vested interests of a range of ‘influential parties’.
The petitioners pointed out that the JIT had failed to take into account the fact that Rahman was collaborating with the government of Sindh for identification, survey and mapping of various settlements in parts of Karachi for their regularisation and that all regularisations came to a halt following her murder.
“Nearly 1,063 settlements were regularised by the Sindh government through the efforts of Rahman, whereas more than 1,000 were left,” the application said.
“When a settlement is regularised it becomes difficult to evict the residents as they become lawful lessees. Consequently, the price of the land also increases. Both these factors make it difficult for the land mafia and the real estate developers to grab land through forced eviction or fraudulent/coercive transactions,” it adds.
The application added that residents of various settlements were approaching Rahman seeking her assistance in regularisation.
“Rahman had, therefore, become a symbol of resistance against the land mafia and real estate developers,” it says.