Sunday, April 27, 2008

Inquiry into role of SHOs in May 12 mayhem under way

By S. Raza Hassan

KARACHI, April 22: The role of some station house officers (SHOs) in the May 12 killings is being investigated by intelligence agencies ahead of the first anniversary of the fateful day, sources close to spymasters told Dawn.

Over 45 people were killed and dozens wounded when the Muttahida Qaumi Movement held a rally the day the deposed chief justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, landed at Karachi airport to address the Karachi Bar Association on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Sindh High Court Bar Association.

The Pakistan People’s Party, the Awami National Party and the Jamaat-i-Islami had already announced their plans to take out processions to welcome the deposed chief justice.

Ironically, except for one, the station house officers in Shah Faisal and Malir towns – where most of the killings took place on May 12, 2007 – are still posted at their respective police stations.

A majority of the killings took place in the jurisdictions of the Shah Faisal, Al-Falah, Malir City and Model Colony police stations.

Sources close to the officials overseeing the inquiry by the agencies said that there was evidence that official weapons and rounds belonging to the Al-Falah and Shah Faisal and Malir City police stations were freely used on May 12.

The Shah Faisal Colony SHO recently went on month-long leave in a move described as “highly unusual” by a senior officer.

“There is ample evidence available in the form of video clips that the SMGs used by terrorists at the Baloch Colony flyover and some other spots, such as Malir Halt, had SMG straps attached to them, which shows that they were official weapons,” said a source privy to the probe.

Similarly, several hundred official rounds of AK-47 rifles were also used on May 12, sources quoting some senior police officers said.

Explaining the additional use of official weapons, an official said that they were used as the terrorists had run out of their own stock on that particular day.

Police and Rangers have not yet been able to explain away their inaction on May 12. In fact, the then city police chief, Azhar Ali Farooqui, told the Sindh High Court that he was helpless on May 12.

Mr Farooqui was subsequently appointed Sindh IG and he held the post till he was replaced by Dr Shoaib Suddle earlier this month.

“You just collect the footage of the stretch of road starting from the COD to Malir Halt and at the Baloch Colony flyover belonging to private television channels of May 12 and not much will be left to investigate,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.

In the aftermath of the May 12 incidents, police did complete their formalities by registering 55 FIRs in the defunct police zones I and II.

Most of the FIRs were lodged by the heirs of the people who had died in the May 12 violence, but in some cases police also registered FIRs on behalf of the state against unknown persons.

An officer belonging to the investigation wing of the police said there had been little investigation into the May 12 killings. He added that the probe had never been initiated.

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