Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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Land mafia benefitted from Perween Rahman murder, JIT tells SC

The OPP director was gunned down in 2013 by four men in a targeted attack in Karachi's Orangi Town

KARACHI: A Joint Investigation Team investigating the killing of Orangi Pilot Project director Perween Rahman have termed the land mafia as the "clearest beneficiaries" of the prominent social activist's murder in Karachi's Orangi Town in 2013.

In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, members of the JIT said Rehman and her organisation made it "more difficult to grab the land" by documenting informal settlements in Karachi's downtrodden outskirts.

"The root cause of Ms. Rahman's murder had to lie with her efforts to make it more difficult to grab the land that was populated by the Goth dwellers," members of the JIT wrote in the report, a copy of which is available with Geo.tv.

“In the case of Ms. Rahman's murder, the clearest beneficiaries were the land mafias. Because following her murder, OPP's work of documenting the goths and helping them to attain their land rights, stopped almost immediately," they added.

"Thus it was the land mafia elements that became the direct beneficiaries of the murder of Perween Rahman."

Rahman, who was the Director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) was gunned down by four men in a targeted attack near the Banaras fly-over in Orangi Town in March 2013. She was a vocal activist working against the land and water mafia in the city.

Police had arrested the prime suspect in the case, Rahim Swati, on May 7, 2016, during a shootout in Sultanabad area. 

The eight-member JIT was formed in February 2018 at the request of Inspector-General Sindh AD Khawaja. The JIT included officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Rangers and intelligence agencies said that Rahman.

The report stated those who tried to continue Rahman's work were coerced and threatened into submission.

"The Orangi Pilot Project's work of documenting the goths and helping them to attain their land rights, stopped almost immediately. Some efforts were made to try and continue Ms. Rahman's work, but several other members of the OPP started receiving constant threats and in at least one incident, attacker or grenade was thrown at a senior member of the OPP staff: The result was that the OPP suspended its operations working with the goths, and those operations have not been reopened till the present day," the JIT members note in the report.

“With the suspension of the OPP's work, the entire process of regularising and recognising the goths that Ms. Rahman had initiated came to a standstill, and the dwellers of the goths were left once again at the mercy of the land grabbers. Thus it was the land mafia elements that became the direct beneficiaries of the murder of Perween Rahman," it said.

The JIT team called the murder suspects, Raheem Swati and his associates' as 'small time gangsters who suited their (land mafia)'s purpose'.

"Their activities remained the same, involvement in various criminal activities, including land grabbing in their area. They may well have had a localised dispute with the OPP over the establishment Mt Karate club. But elements of the land mafia would have been aware of this, and also would have almost certainly been in contact with such characters."

The JIT team also alleged that the investigation officer of the case, and Sub-Inspector Moeed changed the direction of the investigations by putting the blame of murder on Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.