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MQM activist’s custodial death sparks outrage

Aziz Bhatti police officers suspended, some of them booked for murder;MQM says activist tortured to death, announces two-day mourning period

By Salis bin Perwaiz
June 04, 2015
A Muttahida Qaumi Movement activist died in police custody on Wednesday, drawing a scathing response from the party which claimed that he was tortured to death and announced a two-day shutdown of Karachi to mourn the “extrajudicial killing”.
On the chief minister’s orders, the SHO and other policemen of the Aziz Bhatti police station, where the MQM activist died, were suspended, booked and an inquiry has been launched against them.
A few days ago, a police team of the East district had arrested Mohammad Waseem Dehlvi and his brothers Mohammad Adil Dehlvi and Mohammad Naeem Dehlvi.
Waseem was booked at the Aziz Bhatti police station under the Arms Act 23-A and the FIR mentioned that he was arrested at Gali 15 of Dalmia Society.
Later, Waseem was handed over to the investigation police.
Police said on Wednesday morning, Waseem felt pain in his chest and was taken to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where he was pronounced dead.
The medical legal officer who conducted the autopsy in his initial report concluded that the cause of death was torture.
The report read: “The death occurred due to a head injury resulting from an impact with a hard and blunt object with findings of asphyxia leading to cardiorespiratory failure. However, blood samples have been preserved for chemical analysis.
Following Waseem’s death, party leaders and activists besides his relatives reached the hospital, where they staged a protest. Holding Wassem’s pictures, his relatives accused police of torturing him to death and demanded that they should be arrested.
They also maintained that Waseem was abducted by the law enforcement agencies along with his two younger brothers a few days from their residence in Baldia Town.
Initially, additional IGP Karachi Ghulam Qadir Thebo took notice of the incident had ordered an inquiry into the matter under the supervision of DIG East Munir Sheikh and also said he would personally probe the case.
However, after receiving the postmortem report, IGP Ghulam Hyder Jamali ordered the registration of an FIR against the investigation officials of Aziz Bhatti Police Station.
He also suspended New Town sub divisional police officer Nasir Ahmed Lodhi and ordered him to report to the Central Office.
Besides, the Aziz Bhatti SHO, sub-inspector Maqsood Raza, was also suspended and demoted to the rank of ASI.
Other policemen who were suspended include SI Zameer Hussain, the investigation officer of the case, head constable Khair Mohammad, and constables Sikander Ali and Asadullah.
On the IGP’s directives, the Aziz Bhatti police station lodged a murder case under Section-302 of the Pakistan Penal Code against the investigation team of Aziz Bhatti police station including investigation officer SI Zameer Hussain and arrested them.
They were shifted to the police’s East headquarters.
DIG East Munir Sheikh said Waseem’s brothers have been released and handed over to their family.
Report sought
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah has sought a report from the IGP on the incident and formed a committee headed by DIG West Feroze Shah to ascertain the facts behind the MQM activist’s death.
Officials probing the case said they had sought reports from the Aziz Bhatti police station and also recorded the statements of the police officers involved including those who were nominated in the FIR.
Waseem’s funeral prayers were offered in Baldia Town No 3 and he was laid to rest at a graveyard in the area.

Two-day shutdown
The MQM has announced a mourning period of two days, Wednesday and Thursday, over Waseem’s death and asked traders and transporters to keep businesses closed and vehicles off the roads, respectively, during this time.
Soon after the announcement was made, shops across the city started shutting down and many filling stations too were closed.
Long queues of vehicles were seen at the few filling stations that remained open in the evening.
In a statement, the MQM Rabita Committee said Waseem was subjected to brutal torture in police custody and that caused his death. Waseem was an activist of MQM’s Baldia Town Unit 117.
According to MQM’s official website, a large contingent of police including cops in civvies raided Waseem’s house in Baldia Town No 3 on Monday night.
They first arrested Waseem’s domestic aide who was present outside the house and beat him up. Then they arrested Waseem and his two brothers and shifted them to an undisclosed location.
Waseem was a father of three, his eldest child only four years old. The MQM said 60 of its activists had been arrested in May alone and their whereabouts were still unknown.
Addressing a press conference, MQM MNA Kunwar Naveed Jamil said the law enforcement agencies were not conducting an operation against criminals, but the MQM.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain said over three dozen MQM activists had subjected to extrajudicial killing and around 50 supporters were still missing.
Additional input by Shamim Bano