The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed displeasure over the lack of progress in the Perween Rahman murder case in spite of orders for trial proceedings.
Perween Rahman, head of the Orangi Pilot Project, who devoted her life to the development of the impoverished neighbourhoods across the country, was gunned down near her office in Karachi’s Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, pointed out that although no progress is being made in the case, the court was being told that all is well in the matter.
"We know what the prosecution and the Sindh police are doing," Justice Saeed said, adding that no progress had been made in a case that has gone on for five years.
"Why don't we create a joint investigation team to probe this?" the judge asked as the hearing broke into recess.
As the hearing commenced, the Sindh government's lawyer pointed out that a JIT was formed in the case and in light of its report, a trial had been ordered.
While adjourning the case until November 6, the bench once again ordered that the applicant in the case, Aqeela Ismail, be provided complete security.
The Karachi Deputy Inspector General (DIG) West assured the court that Ismail would be given protection. The court warned that if the orders were not followed, those found responsible would not be spared.
Rahman's murder and the lack of progress in the case
Rahman was going home from her office when unidentified assailants approached her car on a motorcycle on Manghopir Road near Banaras Flyover and opened fire. She received gunshot wounds in her neck and was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital by her driver where she died.
After many lapses, on March 22 this year the Sindh police conceded before the SC that Rahman’s murder was the result of a conspiracy hatched by those threatened by her efforts against land grabbing and her championing of the Goth Abad scheme.
The report by the JIT appointed to probe the murder of Rahman was furnished by DIG West Amir Farooqi before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.
The report stated that the linking of Qazi Bilal ─ a suspected senior Tehreek-i-Taliban commander reportedly killed in a police encounter on March 14, 2013, a day after Rahman's murder ─ to the murder as prime suspect was likely incorrect.
Later, on March 29, an anti-terrorism court indicted five accused in the case, including Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Mohammad Amjad Hussain Khan, Ahmed Khan alias Ahmed Ali alias Pappu Kashmiri, Mohammad Imran Swati and Mohammad Raheem Swati.
They pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges against them. Subsequently, the trial court summoned the prosecution witnesses to record their statements.
However, it emerged on June 28 that the trial in the case was yet to begin as police remained unable to produce witnesses and have also failed to provide them security despite the Supreme Court's directives.
"There are around 23 prosecution witnesses in the case, but none of them seems willing to come forward to record statements due to security concerns," Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, the lawyer representing the complainant, had told Dawn at the time.