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January 9, 2015

A year later, no answers to super cop Chaudhry’s death


January 9, 2015

Today marks a whole year when Karachi lost one of its bravest cops to terrorists. The murder case of the man who helped solve so many cases in his lifetime lies cold. No major breakthroughs have been made, leaving a huge question mark on the investigators.
Arguably the most feared cop of his generation, Muhammad Aslam Khan aka Chaudhry Aslam was assassinated in a suicide bomb blast on his convoy on January 9, 2013. He was among the first policemen targets of last year, which saw 143 police officers murdered in the line of duty.
Soon afterwards, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Mohmand chapter claimed responsibility for the attack. The bomber was identified as Naeem-ul-Haq Siddiqui, who lived in house number H-268 in Peerabad along Manghopir Road near Banaras Chowrangi. Naeem’s father was the prayer leader of an area mosque and also operated a seminary.
A case was launched against the TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah and then spokesman Shahidullah Shahid for the bombing. The Sindh government formed two investigation teams – one under the supervision of former CID DIG Zafar Abbas Bukhari and SP Niaz Ahmed Khosa and the other headed by DIG East Munir Ahmed Sheikh.
As investigations began, the father and brother of the alleged suicide bomber, who had been on the run since the attack, were arrested during raids in the Manghopir and Peerabad neighbourhoods. They were released later on benefit of the doubt. Police also claim to have killed some members of a banned outfit who were either directly or indirectly involved in the attack. Apart from this there has been no major headway.
A senior officer on the condition of anonymity told The News that some suspects were under investigation for Aslam’s murder. He claimed the banned TTP Swat wing had collaborated with the banned sectarian outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Naeem Bukhari group), to eliminate Aslam, then the chief of the Crime Investigation Department’s (CID) Anti-Extremism


A lucky cop
The counterterrorism specialist had been frequently targeted in the past, particularly for carrying out operations against militants in Karachi. Even on the day he was killed, he had killed three militants of the same outfit that later in the day took his life. He ran an intelligence network that even a spy agency would have been proud of. On information for what goes on beneath the surface in the violence-plagued port city, he was an encyclopaedia.
Between 2006 and 2013, Aslam had survived four assassinations. In 2006, militants attacked his convoy near Punjab Chowrangi in Gizri, killing his three security guards. The next major attack came in 2008 in Hub, Balochistan, where he had gone to arrest the notorious Lyari gangster Rehman Dakait. The criminals escaped, but Aslam was injured. A year later, the super cop killed the man in an alleged police encounter.
The biggest attack against him was carried out in September 2011 when Aslam’s residence in Defence was blown up in a suicide bombing, also claimed by the TTP. The police officer and his family escaped unhurt.
In July 2013, terrorists once again attempted to kill him in a bomb attack and rammed a motorcycle into a SUV near the same spot he was killed five months later. They were mistaken as the vehicle belonged to a city administration officer.

What went wrong?
The super cop’s luck finally ran out a year ago. On that day, Aslam was not travelling in his usual bombproof vehicle, which had gone for repairs. Although the vehicle destroyed in the explosion was also bulletproof, the bomb targeting the police officer was so powerful that it threw the vehicle 20 metres away from where it was hit. Three more vehicles were badly damaged in the explosion that was heard several kilometres away, smashing glass and windowpanes of nearby buildings and vehicles on the road.

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