As the city police chief on Thursday claimed to have made a key arrest in the mysterious ‘knifeman’ attacks in Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal, another woman was stabbed and injured in Gulistan-i-Jauhar in the evening despite heavy deployment of police at more than two dozen spots.
Gulshan SP Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto told Dawn that the 28-year-old woman, identified as Tahira Bano, was stabbed and wounded by the “lone” attacker riding a motorbike in the busy Rado Bakery area. She was admitted to a private hospital for treatment.
These incidents have sowed fear in women in the localities. Women’s rights activists staged protests and criticised the law enforcement agency and political administration for their failure to arrest the perceived lone attacker.
On Wednesday alone six women, including two teenage girls, were stabbed and injured by the mysterious attacker in Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal, bringing the total number of such reported attacks to 12 in a week or so.
Women defy fear, lambaste police, govt inefficiency
The incidents have not only emerged as a serious challenge for the police but have also prompted political activists to question the effectiveness of the Pakistan Peoples Party government.
The attacks also triggered reaction from PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who said: “PPP will not tolerate [these] attacks on innocent women. These terrorists are challenging our nation by attacking our women.”
He told Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to summon Additional IG of Karachi Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar to seek a report about the investigations into the incidents and prospects of the attacker’s arrest. During their meeting, the city police chief told the CM about the “key arrest”.
The city police chief informed the chief minister that the police had detained 15 suspects for interrogation during raids carried out on Wednesday night. Mr Mahar said that “today [Thursday] morning, an important arrest had been made,” a police spokesperson said. The chief minister announced a Rs500,000 reward for any persons giving information leading to the culprit’s arrest.
Mr Mahar stated that so far 10 cases of attacks on women had been reported to the police, to which Mr Murad said he “wanted results”.
Meanwhile, Gulshan-i-Iqbal SP Ghulam Murtaza Bhutto told Dawn on Thursday that six women, including two teenage girls, were injured when a lone knifeman attacked them in different parts of Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal. The incidents took place within a few hours of each other.
The officer said that the last attack, on a teenage girl, was reported near Hassan Square in the PIB police limits at around 10.45pm on Wednesday.
Five other attacks on women took place in the jurisdictions of Sharea Faisal, Aziz Bhatti and Gulshan-i-Iqbal police stations.
SP Bhutto said that in the previous attacks on women in Gulistan-i-Jauhar, the lone attacker riding a motorbike was seen wearing dark trousers and shirt. However, the CCTV footage obtained by police of the Wednesday attacks showed that the attacker was wearing white shalwar kameez. However, the officer insisted that they believed that the attacker appeared to be the same.
Residents of Gulistan-i-Jauhar on Thursday lodged a protest against the failure of the police and the government in providing them protection from the attacker.
A large number of women and men protested at Jauhar Mor in Gulistan-i-Jauhar. They carried banners inscribed with slogans such as ‘Enough is enough’, ‘Attacks on women unacceptable’, ‘Arrest the culprit’, ‘Protect women, or quit.’
The protesters also criticised the alleged “incompetence” of the provincial government, particularly that of the home minister of Sindh.
Two teams investigate
Police authorities have set up two teams to investigate the attacks on women and arrest the attacker.
City police chief Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar said that one team was headed by the CIA DIG and the other by the DIG of East Zone.
“Karachi police are trying their best and have deputed many teams for the arrest of the person/persons involved in these heinous offences to create panic and fear,” the Karachi AIG said. “The person involved is most likely a psychopath.”
He added that the police were working on a “few available clues” and persons involved in previous similar cases were being probed.
Media asked to exercise caution
The city police chief urged the media to exercise caution while covering such attacks on women.
He requested the media to report the incidents but not to “sensationalise” them. Mr Mahar said police had arrested high-profile target killers and terrorists in the past. He hoped that this case would also be solved.
“I appeal to citizens of Karachi not to panic and provide information related to the incident,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2017