PTI leader claims her innocent driver was one of 5 'robbers' killed by police in Karachi's DHAArchive
A local Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader on Friday claimed that one of the five suspects shot dead in a shootout with police in Karachi's Defence Housing Authority (DHA) neighbourhood in the morning was her family driver of many years who was taken away from her home and killed.
Earlier in the day, officials had said five suspects were killed in an exchange of fire between police and alleged robbers in the DHA area.
Gizri Station House Officer (SHO) Agha Mashooq said the suspects had entered a bungalow near Yasrab Imambargah in DHA Phase 4 with the intention of committing burglary. Upon receiving information, police surrounded the house, he said.
However, the suspects entered another house and resorted to firing in an effort to flee, the SHO said, adding that the suspects were killed during an exchange of fire.
He claimed that the deceased belonged to an "inter-provincial gang of house robbers" as they were involved in burgling houses in Sindh and Punjab.
Police identified four of the deceased as Mohammad Abbas, Ghulam Mustafa, Mohammad Abid and Mahammed Riaz while the fifth suspect could not be identified immediately.
However, PTI leader Laila Parveen and her husband Advocate Ali Hasnain contradicted the version provided by police officials, saying their driver Ghulam Abbas was one of the five people killed in what they termed a fake police 'encounter'.
In videos posted on social media and video messages from Islamabad, the couple said police had detained Abbas from their home in DHA Phase 4 and killed him along with four others while the vehicle seized from the suspects also belonged to them.
They said the purported encounter took place behind their bungalow. Parveen said her mother-in-law and sister-in-law were present at the house when some policemen and officials in civilian clothes arrived there at around 4:30am and took away their driver Abbas along with their car parked outside.
Some time later, she found out that Abbas had been killed. Parveen said the double-cabin vehicle police claimed to have recovered from the deceased belongs to her family.
Hasnain said Abbas had been working as their driver for the last five years and was a "gentleman".
“There was no record that my vehicle was used in any crime and there was no criminal record of my driver either,” the lawyer claimed, adding that he did not know the other four men killed in the police shootout.
He said his mother and a neighbour had also tried to resist while police were taking away their driver, and accused police officials of "misbehaving" with his mother.
"CCTV cameras are installed in my house; if police haven't destroyed the footages all facts will become clear," he added.
The PTI leader said their driver was innocent and demanded the provision of justice from authorities.
The Karachi South police in a statement said two different police teams had eliminated a "dacoit gang" in the wake of growing incidents of house robberies in the area.
The statement said a police party was patrolling on 5th Commercial Street in DHA Phase 4 when they tried to stop and check a Vigo vehicle that appeared suspicious to them. The suspects travelling in the car abandoned it and entered a bungalow by scaling its wall, following which the police team also entered the house while chasing them.
The suspects opened fire on police who retaliated in "self-defence", due to which the five men sustained injuries and died while being taken to hospital.
Police identified the group as a "Seraiki gang" whose ringleader was slain suspect Ghulam Mustafa. Six other members of the gang are in jail, police said.
“This Seraiki gang as per their modus operandi sought information from house servants and carried out house robberies at an appropriate time,” read the police statement.
This gang had been involved in house robberies in Punjab as well as the robbery at the home of former Sindh chief minister Ali Mohammad Mahar in DHA, among more than 20 such crimes in Karachi's South district.
Police claimed to have recovered five pistols and four CNICs from their custody but the police statement was silent about the specific charges of the PTI leader.
Two senior police officers who wished not to be named told Dawn that they did not want to become involved in "political debates".
Police sources said senior police officers have invited the PTI leader and her husband to record their statement about the incident. They added that the call data record of deceased Abbas’s cell phone showed that he had remained in touch with the said gang members.
Meanwhile, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) additional police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed told Dawn that after the controversy, she had decided to set up a medical board comprising forensic expert Dr Farhat Mirza, herself and medico-legal officer Dr Sikander, who initially carried out the post-mortem, to re-examine the bodies.