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Death by accident?: Suspect dies in CID police custody

Pakistan on 15 July 2013
Location : KARACHI, Pakistan | Source : Express Tribune. Image Source: Express Tribune

The young man, Muhammad Farhan, who died under mysterious circumstances in the custody of the Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Saturday, was only arrested a day ago as a suspected target killer.

The news of his death broke past midnight on Saturday after which the CID police came under fire by the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), who accused its Anti-Extremist Cell SSP Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam Khan of killing its worker in an ‘extra judicial’ manner.

According to a document of the Edhi morgue – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune – the body was brought in by the CID Garden police headquarters at around 5:20pm on Friday to be kept in its cold storage. Even though the police declared on the form that the cause of death was “police encounter”, there were no bullet wounds on the body. The body did, however, display marks of severe torture with profuse post-mortem bleeding from the nose.

Farhan’s family was also afraid of revealing any information. “Please leave us alone as we have already sustained a great loss,” said a family member. “You will jeopardise our lives as well.” The family buried the body only an hour after receiving the body at around 8am on Saturday even though they had planned on holding the funeral with members of ASWJ after Asr prayers.

On Thursday, SSP Khan claimed to have arrested six operatives of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s (LeJ) Naeem Bukhari group from Orangi Town’s neighbourhood of Qazzafi Chowk. Farhan, 22, resident of Golimar, was one of those six suspects, who – based on their alleged confessions during custody – were implicated in at least 25 cases of target killings, including that of Muttahida Qaumi Movement MPA Sajid Qureshi and college principal Prof. Sibte Jafar Zaidi.

The party insisted, nevertheless, that the CID picked up its activists ‘unlawfully’. “We had filed a petition in court demanding habeas corpus [ordering a prisoner to be brought before a judge or into a court] on July 8,” said ASWJ spokesperson Akbar Saeed Farooqui.

Apart from the deceased, the five suspects still in police custody have no affiliation with the LeJ. The police demanded Rs1 million from each of their families, and fixed them under ‘false’ charges when the families failed to pay, said Farooqui. According to him, the party received the body at around 1:30am on Saturday, when they took it to Jinnah hospital for medico-legal examination but the officer on duty allegedly refused to carry it out. He said the medico-legal report had already been issued to the police after an examination, Farooqui claimed, adding that even officials at Civil hospital also refused. “It appeared that the CID police used its connections to deny us this right,” he alleged.

The ASWJ demanded the chief justice of Pakistan take action. “Otherwise, police stations will turn into courtrooms, where these SSPs and SHOs will act as judges.”
The other side

SSP Chaudhry Aslam Khan termed the ASWJ claims preposterous. “The deceased was already a heart patient and the family knew this,” he said. According to Khan, Farhan felt uneasiness on the night of his arrest, which according to him was July 11. His blood pressure shot up to 220/120 so the police took him to National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, where he died from cardiac arrest, he said.

“The family requested the police shift the body to Edhi morgue because they wanted to arrange the funeral on Saturday morning,” claimed SSP Khan. “The police sent the body to the morgue on Friday evening once the medico-legal examination was completed.”

The ASWJ activists forcefully took out the body from the morgue and took it to Siddique-i-Akbar mosque, which, according to him, serves as the headquarters of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba. “The ASWJ activists coerced Edhi staff to prepare documents of their choice when they received the body and I refuse to accept them.”

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