Killing in JPMC exposes security lapse
KARACHI, Dec 22: While all commercial activities remained suspended in Saddar on Saturday following the late night violence, the chilling footage of shooting death of a wounded suspect by his rivals inside the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) emergency unit aired by news channels during the day raised alarm over response of Rangers personnel to the incident and overall security arrangements at the hospital.
The CCTV (closed-circuit television cameras) footage showed a bearded man clad in shalwar kameez intercepting the wounded suspect, said to be a hit man, being wheeled in for treatment and beating up the staff with a stick just before another man holding an AK-47 rifle appears. The armed man fires multiple shots at the wounded suspect from a distance of seven to eight feet. The attackers were then showed walking out of the emergency unit.
While leaving they run into Rangers personnel and, hiding their weapons, they point at the entrance of the emergency unit to throw the paramilitary soldiers off the scent.
“We have found 17 casings of spent AK-47 bullets from the scene so you can well imagine what must have happened. The wounded man died on the spot,” said Malik Ashan, the area’s deputy superintendent of police (DSP).
The Friday night violence erupted following the killing of Ramzan Kakar, a local leader of the Awami National Party, in Saddar.
His associates returned fire leaving a suspected attacker wounded along with half a dozen other people, including a police officer.
The suspected attacker, identified as Abdul Rehman, was shifted for treatment to the JPMC emergency unit where he was shot dead, causing fear and panic at the hospital.
The footage displayed scenes of panic, fear and stampede inside the JPMC emergency unit where a number of patients were present with their family members, including women and children, when the shooting was carried out.
The police authorities claimed to have arrested two persons for their alleged involvement in the JPMC firing.
DSP Malik said efforts were being made for the arrest of other suspects, but he could not explain the reason for delay in registration of an FIR. The report was not registered even 24 hours after the incident.
With the largest emergency facility among the public hospitals in the city still vulnerable to violence, the Friday incident served as another wake-up call for the security administration to take effective security measures.
“We have approached the Sindh police chief and the chief secretary for that purpose,” said Seemin Jamali, the official in charge of the emergency and accident department.
“Even the auto-rickshaw that brought one of the wounded rammed into the emergency unit with charged supporters of the victim and no one was there to stop it. The JPMC has only unarmed watchmen who are not capable of handling a mob situation or people with guns.”
Dr Jamali said security concerns were raised time and again but the authorities concerned had never paid heed. The staff remained in constant fear and one could imagine the level of threat as people holding assault rifles roamed around.
“We only suspended our operation once in the history of the JPMC in February 2010 when a bomb exploded outside the emergency unit. Despite last night’s incident we did not stop work and continued treating people under immense fear and threat but it is not sustainable. The Sindh chief secretary and the IG have been very positive and we expect it will also reflect in their moves.”
More than a dozen people were killed in the February 2010 bomb blast outside the JPMC emergency unit where the Chehlum procession bus attack victims were being brought for treatment.
In June 2011, a 20-kilo bomb was defused inside the hospital compound where dozens of people offer prayers.
Similarly, off and on firing incidents by supporters and aides of the victims, mostly associated with political groups, remain a permanent threat for the staff and people visiting the city’s largest public hospital.
Police investigators said the ANP leader’s killing in Saddar was the result of a ‘business’ dispute between two groups.
DSP Zameer Abbasi said the police had rounded up three suspects for their alleged role in Friday night arson attacks in Saddar and also seized arms from them.
“An FIR (692/2012) has been registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code for the killing of the ANP leader,” he said.
“The body was moved to the Pishin district of Balochistan on Friday night. Our findings say that his killing was not linked with any political or ethnic motive.”