Sunday November 28, 2021

Unrelenting street crime claims life of Usman Institute of Technology’s head

June 12, 2021

Dr Zahir Ali Syed, the director of Karachi’s Usman Institute of Technology (UIT), a non-profit engineering studies institute affiliated with the NED University, was shot dead on Friday in a broad daylight incident in District East.

As the Karachi police said the academic was killed for offering resistance during a mugging bid, the UIT director has, according to media reports, become the ninth victim who lost his life due to street crime since Karachi got its new police chief last month.

The tragic incident took place near the Khatoon-e-Pakistan College within the limits of the New Town police station. “The assailants opened fire after the victim sped up the car instead of stopping,” said District East police chief SSP Sajid Saduzai while talking to The News. The officer ruled out the possibility of a targeted killing or car snatching.

“Usually, two suspects are not behind the car snatching bid and so far our investigation suggests that the suspects were street muggers.” Seventy-year-old Dr Syed, who was the head of the UIT situated in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, was shot once in his shoulder. He was rushed to the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) where he succumbed to his injuries. “The bullet got stuck in his body and he died due to severe bleeding,” SSP Saduzai said, quoting doctors at the AKUH.

In his initial statement to the police, Dr Syed’s driver said the victim dropped him near the AKUH before heading towards his residence in the Bahadurabad area; however, he drove a little further after dropping him, two armed men arrived on a motorcycle and tried to intercept him. “Their [the suspects’] faces were visible as they were not wearing masks or helmets,” the driver recalled. He added that as Dr Syed tried to escape, the suspects fired a single shot at him.

Police said the deceased academic had not received any threat from anyone and they were trying to make sketches of the suspects with the help of the driver. Police were also unable to get any CCTV footage of the crime scene. “No CCTV camera was installed at the crime scene but we are trying to obtain CCTV footage of the surroundings to get help in the probe, and trace and arrest the suspects,” SSP Saduzai explained.

“We have also recovered an empty shell of a 30bore pistol from the crime scene,” he stated, adding that the shell would be sent to the forensic division of the Sindh police for ballistics cross-matching.

No case was registered till the filing of this news story. Dr Syed was an engineer who graduated from the Dawood Engineering College. Later, he completed his master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

After completing his master’s degree from the MIT, he moved to California for doctorate. He came back to Pakistan and joined the NED University as a lecturer and academic counselor. Utilising his IT industry experience, Dr Syed helped develop several software houses and IT companies. Later, he started a venture, Avanza Solutions.

After having served for long in the IT industry, he again shifted to academia and joined the Karachi Institute of Technology associated with the University of Huddersfield. He was also the owner of the Cambridge Advisors Network providing technology and IT-related consultancy to multiple varsities. He joined the UIT in 2016 as its director.

Ninth victim

Imran Yaqoob Minhas was appointed as the additional IG Karachi on May 11. After assuming the charge of his office, he vowed to eliminate street crime from Karachi with a warning to the SHOs of 30 police stations across the city, but despite that, the Karachi police seemed to have failed to control the rising incidents of street crime.

According to media r ports, since the appointment of the additional IG, a total of nine people, with Dr Syed being the latest, have been killed and over 40 wounded in just one month during mugging bids across the city.

The residents of Karachi are in distress due to the increase in street crime, which the police have so far failed to deal with. Additional IG Minhas was not available when The News tried to

contact him for comments.