“The recent arrest of Raheem Swati, the main suspect in the murder case of prominent social activist Perween Rahman, would lead to many other high-profile actors involved in land-grabbing across the city”, claimed Anwar Rashid, the current director of the Orangi Pilot Project.
Swati, a former councillor belonging to the Awami National Party who has ties with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, was arrested in Manghopir on Saturday for allegedly masterminding the 2013 murder of Ms Rahman.
Mr Rashid told the media that Swati was just one of the pawns or mediators who brokered deals, in his own way, for the big names behind real estate business in Karachi. It seems that his confession would lead to many other real estate actors in the city.”
Ms Rahman’s sister, Aquila Ismail, expressed her suspicion about the earlier arrests made by the police. One of those apprehensions was related to the killing of a suspected assassin in a police encounter the very next day of her murder on March 13, 2013. At various forums held between 2014 and 2015, Ms Ismail, with counsel in the case, Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, said that “it seems the case is being intentionally weakened”.
The case was eventually closed until a petition was filed in the Supreme Court in July 2013 by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yusuf. The petition was admitted in January 2014 and a joint investigation team (JIT) was formed on a directive of the apex court by the Sindh home department. The JIT met the police team investigating the murder as well as members of the OPP.
In 2015, two suspects — Imran Swati and Pappu Kashmiri — were arrested. “They gave us the name of Raheem Swati, who is the prime suspect in the case and affiliated with the Awami National Party in Karachi,” said SSP-West Azfar Mahesar, who has been associated with the case for the past one and a half years.
He added that two more suspects — Mohammad Ayaz and Amjad Afridi — were yet to be arrested. They also belonged to the same political party, he said. He said a JIT would interrogate suspect Swati in the coming days.
In the meantime, another incident which garnered less attention was the passing away of Ms Rahman’s mother. Advocate Siddiqi said that her mother passed away two weeks back at her home.
Since the murder of Ms Rahman, who worked on mapping land and water supplies and low-cost housing plans in Orangi Town, her family and friends keep a low profile until they gather for a programme or an event in the city in her honour or to ask questions from the authorities.
Anwar Rashid is one such person who is holding on despite receiving various threats to stay “off the radar”.
Read : Karachi police arrest prime suspect in Perween Rahman murder case