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Prosecutor’s plea stalls announcement of Perween Rahman murder case verdict

By Our Correspondent
October 29, 2021
Prosecutor’s plea stalls announcement of Perween Rahman murder case verdict

Upon the request of the prosecutor, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday adjourned the pronouncement of the verdict in the murder case of social activist Perween Rahman.

Perween, 55, was killed in a drive-by shooting on the Banaras flyover on March 13, 2013. She was a renowned urban planner and social activist running an NGO called Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in the Orangi Town area.

Five accused, including former local Awami National Party leader Abdul Rahim Swati, his son Imran Swati and their three accomplices, Ayaz Shamzai, Ahmed Khan and Amjad Hussain Khan, have been tried for the murder.

The ATC-VII, which conducted the trial inside the central prison, was set to announce the decision on Thursday, however, the newly-appointed prosecutor Neel Parkash moved an adjournment application on behalf of the state.

Parkash said that he was recently appointed on this case which was processed by his predecessors in different courts and had gone through the contents of the prosecution documents.

Referring to the confessional statement of the main accused, Rahim, which was recorded by then West SSP investigation-I Akhtar Farooqui under the section 21-H of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the prosecutor said that the accused, who was a land grabber, had in his statement clearly deposed about hatching up a conspiracy with his co-accused to commit the Perween’s murder.

He pleaded the judge to allow the application for framing an amended charge on all the accused with regard to hatching up a conspiracy to kill the OPP director, under the section 120-B of the Pakistan Penal Code in view of the above facts and circumstances.

The judge issued notices to the counsel for the complainant, Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, and the defence counsels, Advocate Shah Imroz Khan and Advocate Ajab Khan Khattak, to submit their arguments on the application on November 3.

According to a court staffer, the pronouncement of the verdict has been adjourned till the disposal of the application. The investigation stated that Raheem and his accomplices ran a criminal enterprise in the area involved in stealing water and grabbing land and since Perween’s activism hurt their ambitions, they decided to kill her.

The latest supplementary charge sheet filed by the fifth JIT in the case had revealed that the OPP director had named her suspected killer in an interview to a journalist two years before her assassination.

The charge sheet quoted her interview to a journalist in which she had referred to Raheem as a “land grabber and extortionist”, claiming that he was trying to occupy land reserved for an OPP office.

The report stated that the journalist had verified the content of the said interview and also provided an audio clip of the same which was aired on a United States-based international broadcaster, Public Radio International (PRI), in January 2012.

The JIT was constituted on the orders of the apex court after the victim’s sister Aquila Ismail had expressed her dissatisfaction at the Sindh police, requesting that the case be handed over to the Federal Investigation Agency.

The JIT mentioned in the report that they had quizzed politicians, journalists and land developers during the investigations and in the light of their findings, they concluded that Perween was killed by Rahim and his accomplices.