Oct 162017

KARACHI: The investigations into multiple cases of knife attacks on women in the city’s Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal areas hit a snag just a day after the arrest of the perceived prime suspect in Mandi Bahauddin as the Punjab police refused to shift him to Karachi and offered only “limited access” to Sindh police officials to question him for over a dozen cases of similar nature, officials and sources said on Monday.

The Sindh police in coordination with Punjab police officials had arrested the perceived prime suspect of knife attacks on women on Sunday.

“The Punjab police have provided limited access to Sindh police for interrogating the suspect,” said a police officer.

The officer who wished not to be named told Dawn that Punjab police officials had told their counterparts in Sindh that they wanted to check recent attacks on women in Lahore first.

It may be recalled that two incidents of knife attacks had reportedly taken place in Lahore on Oct 11.

Therefore, the Punjab police had shown their reluctance in handing over the custody of the suspect to the Karachi police.

Give ‘limited access’ to Sindh counterparts

The sources revealed that the Lahore police took away the suspect for interrogation.

As many as 13 women with different backgrounds and age groups had been stabbed and injured in various localities of Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal, triggering fear and panic among residents.

These incidents took place between Sept 25 and Oct 5.

The Karachi police had so far registered at least 10 FIRs under charges of assaulting modesty of women and also invoked Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, against the suspect(s).

The city police investigators said that they suspected involvement of Waseem, 27, a native of Chichawatni in Sahiwal district in attacks on women in Karachi on account of similar nature of such attacks on women in Punjab. Karachi East Zone DIG Sultan Ali Khowaja on Sunday categorically stated that the case was still open to other potential suspects.

The suspect(s) had attacked women with a sharp object, probably scalpel, in Karachi.

According to Karachi East SSP Dr Samiullah Soomro the perceived lone attacker riding a motorbike stabbed and injured women mostly in dark and deserted streets of Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal. Almost all attacks took place from behind.

The city police officers said that it was merely because of same pattern of attacks on women that they suspected that Waseem might be involved in identical crimes in Karachi.

The arrested suspect, Waseem, had allegedly carried out several attacks on women in Sahiwal before being arrested in 2016 along with his two alleged accomplices.

Subsequently, he was sent to prison in 11 cases of stabbing and wounding women in Sahiwal but he got released on bail after incarceration of eight months.

After the knife attacks on women in Karachi between Sept 25 and Oct 5, a similar incident occurred in Lahore on Oct 11 when a biker allegedly stabbed and injured a woman there.

Police officials believed that there were lots of similarities found between the recent knife attacks on women in Karachi and those carried out by the suspect in 2014-15 in Sahiwal which gave rise to suspicions about his (Waseem’s) involvement.

On Friday, Karachi’s East Zone police arrested and presented Mohammad Shahzad, stated to be a friend of Waseem before an antiterrorism court over charges of “facilitating” the attacker. He was remanded in police custody for seven days for interrogation.

Shahzad used to work at a factory in Landhi area of Karachi.

As per police claims, Shahzad reportedly provided cover to Waseem, who came to Karachi about a month ago.

The police said Waseem had been missing from his native village in Sahiwal for the last six months.

Shahzad told the police that Waseem was suffering from some psychological disorder and the media coverage of his acts gave him solace.

Besides the alleged facilitator, the police had detained 38 suspects for questioning during raids and search operations in various localities.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2017

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