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Police worried over safety of witnesses after murder of Sabeen’s driver

Police worried over safety of witnesses after murder of Sabeen’s driver

KARACHI: The Monday evening murder of Ghulam Abbas, driver of slain social activist Sabeen Mahmud and the prime witness to her killing, seemed linked to the fatal attack on her life, as the city police on Tuesday sounded worried about the security of other witnesses in high-profile cases.

The police planned to move the witnesses to safe places temporarily, with the Malir cantonment being their top choice, after it emerged that the 48-year-old man killed in Bhitai Colony was the police constable who used to work as Ms Mahmud’s driver on a part-time basis.

The incident was initially considered a regular crime but later his identification and association with the slain activist sent ripples in the security administration and turned the killing into “high-profile killing” case.




“The investigations are on but we are 90 per cent sure that the two killings are linked to each other,” said Karachi police chief Mushtaq Mahar while speaking to Dawn.

“We are not investigating this case as a regular murder but treating it as a high-profile case, as it is most probably an attempt to eliminate the key witness to Ms Mahmud’s murder,” the police chief said.

The human rights activist, who founded the social forum T2F, was shot dead on April 24 this year shortly after the end of an interactive discussion on ‘Unsilencing Balochistan’ organised by her and attended by journalists and rights activists, including the founder leader of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, Abdul Qadeer Baloch.

In June, police claimed to have busted a gang of militants who had killed 45 people of the Shia Ismaili community in the Safoora bus carnage in May. The police said they also confessed to have killed Ms Mahmud for they “did not approve of her views regarding Lal Masjid’s cleric Abdul Aziz, Valentine’s Day and burqa (veil)”.

The killing of her driver was alarming for the police officials investigating Ms Mahmud’s murder. However, official investigation into his killing has yet to be launched as no FIR of Ghulam Abbas’ murder had been registered till Tuesday evening.

“The only witness to the murder of Ghulam Abbas is a nine-year-old boy,” said area DSP Rao Muhammad Iqbal.

“We are in the process of collecting evidence before registering the FIR,” the officer said.

Ghulam Abbas was a police constable and currently posted at the Anti-Corruption Establishment. In April when Ms Mahmud was killed, he was working as a driver on a part-time basis.”

For SP Raja Umer Khattab of the CID’s counter-terror unit, the key man that traced and arrested the Safoora Goth bus carnage and Sabeen Mahmud’s murder suspects who are believed to be local operatives of the self-styled Islamic State militants, Ghulam Abbas’s murder needed to be investigated with all possible aspects.

“No doubt, he was the key witness to her murder,” he said. “During trial, he had identified the suspects and cooperated with the investigators at every single step. Though his killing would not affect the Sabeen Mahmud murder case at this point, as he had already identified the killers, it’s now crucial to secure the lives of witnesses of other high-profile cases.”

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2015

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