No-trust in govt’s reports on Karachi killings: SC

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Expressing dissatisfaction over the investigation reports submitted by the government in the suo moto case on the Karachi situation, CJ Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry observed that the law and order situation in the metropolis could not be controlled until the city was made an ‘arms free zone’.
Taking up for hearing the suo moto case on the violence in Karachi, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry observed that hundreds of people in the city had been killed but nobody knew who had killed them and who was patronising the culprits.
The court directed the attorney general to place on record the requisite reports from the intelligence agencies over law and order in Karachi and observed that the court could not reach any conclusion unless the required material was brought before it.
The CJ observed that the court was taking suo moto notice over the violation of fundamental rights of citizens including the right to live, freedom of movement and trade and business.
The CJ asked Sindh government counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada to assist the court and observed that protection should have been provided to slain Governor Punjab Salman Taseer’s son who was kidnapped in Lahore a few days ago.
Presenting a report regarding the law and order situation in the city, Sindh Inspector General Police Wajid Ali Durrani said recent demographic changes, ethnicity, sectarianism and factional infighting, clashes between land and extortion mafias, easy access to illegal weapons and misuse of arms licences were the main causes of violence in the metropolis.
He said during police interrogation target killers confessed their links with political groups but later retracted their statements when produced before the courts. However, he claimed that the criminals were now on the run and dispersing. He said 306 people were killed from July 24 to August 24 and 232 cases were registered in different parts of the city.
The court, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the investigation reports and observed that if the police wanted to enforce the writ of the law, it could do the job. The IG said action was taken against drug, extortion mafias and land grabbers but admitted that gangs were extorting money from businessmen in millions of rupees monthly and some were receiving extortion in the name of “Fitrana.”
The chief justice expressed concern over this statement of IG Sindh, who admitted that extortion rackets could not be controlled in the city, and observed that extortion was one of the biggest problems being faced by Karachi’s traders on a regular basis.
The CJ asked the IG what steps were being taken to curb such crimes and why action was not taken against concerned SHOs for their failure to provide protection to the citizens.
The court took notice of the grabbing of government land by the land mafia and observed that the Board of Revenue officials should be called to ascertain the actual position. Durrani said 8,000 police out of 32,000 had been deployed for the security of VIPs resulting in a police-population ratio in Karachi of 1:526.
He admitted the presence of “no-go areas” in different parts of the city where one community did not allow members of the other community. However, he said police had access to all areas of the city. He said ethnic groups fired indiscriminately at each other’s areas resulting in deaths and injuries to people coming within firing range.
In response to the report of IG Sindh regarding no-go areas, the CJ remarked, “You admit there are certain areas in Karachi where police cannot enter?” The police chief responded: “There are some areas in Karachi where the police and the common man cannot enter.”
Babar Awan appeared on behalf of the federation and Abdul Hafiz Pirzada while Sindh Advocate General Abdul Fateh Malik represented the Government of Sindh. Other members of the bench hearing the suo moto case are Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ghulam Rabbani.