KARACHI - A soldier of Rangers Friday fired upon a scuffling couple, killing the man and injuring his wife, ‘assuming’ the man was a kidnapper or a robber.

The incident in Nagan Chowrangi area sparked protest by the residents and relatives of the deceased who demanded strict punishment to the soldier claiming he deliberately killed the unarmed man.

According to sources, the soldiers of paramilitary force were deployed near a mosque. They saw a man having heated argument with a woman in the street which later turned physical. A soldier asked them to stop fighting but when his shouts went unheard he shot some bullets in the air.

But when that warning too went ineffective, he fired on them, injuring them both. The injured couple was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where doctor pronounced 28-year-old Zeshan Shahabuddin dead while his wife Safia, aged 25, was admitted for treatment.

District West and Central police Chief DIG Javed Odho confirmed that the man was killed by the Rangers soldier. Deceased was the resident of North Karachi area and ran his own business. He often used to stay abroad. The injured wife said she was being assaulted by her husband when the Rangers intervened. She added that when her husband refused to stop the Rangers opened fire.

A spokesman of Rangers force, which has been deployed in the city to fight against the criminals, said the solider actually aimed at the man believing he was either trying to kidnap the woman or a robbery was going on there. The fatal ‘mistake’ came primarily because the solder was at a considerable distance from the brawling couple, he added.

The couple had a love marriage recently but both were living separately due to family dispute and they had also approached the court for divorce. “Before getting marriage, we had a relationship from the last six years but I was kicked out by my in-laws within 20 days of the wedding,” said the wife of Zeshan.

“He called me at Nagan Chowrangi to sort out the issue where he even beaten me up. I could not see what actually happened because at that time, he was holding my head down.” She said that her husband had already divorced his two wives while her case of divorce was also in the court.

But the deceased man’s family, friends and relatives demanded immediate justice, urging the authorities to hang the accused soldier. People of the area claimed that Rangers men did not allow the people gathered on the spot to taken the victims to the hospital until the crowd threw stones at rangers.

Tension gripped the adjacent areas and business activities came to a grinding halt after the incident. People of the area staged a protest and shout slogans against the paramilitary force. They also pelted police, Rangers and passing vehicles with stones and burnt tyres to suspend the flow of traffic. The mob was later dispersed after the extra contingent of rangers and police reached and fired shots in the air and baton-charged the protesters.

“No one has right to open fire on the innocent citizens,” said victim’s neighbour Asif Mehmood. He asked why an armed man shot at an unarmed man in the first place. Faisal Hashmi, another resident of the area, said Rangers is apparently a non-professional force because professional soldiers would first hit on the leg of a suspect.

“How many criminals and enemies of state the Ranger have killed in the border areas? Why are they killing Karachi citizens as if they are enemies of the country?” Hashmi said that government must send them to borders as they were not trained to maintain law and order in a city.

Zeeshan was not the first unarmed man who has been killed by rangers in Karachi. Earlier, three similar incidents have occurred in Karachi in the last three years where three unarmed citizens, Sarfaraz Shah, Ghulam Haider and a taxi driver, Mureed alias Murad, were killed by rangers in Benazir Park, Shah Faisal Colony and Gulistan-e-Jauhar areas respectively. A number of detained suspects have also been allegedly killed by the Rangers through brutal torture during interrogation, though there is no proof of such claims.

In a statement issued immediately after the incident, the Rangers spokesperson admitted that their soldier resorted to firing but he called it a result of misconception. “At Nagan Chowrangi people drew attention of Rangers personnel deployed on a picket in the area towards a man who was apparently trying to abduct a woman,” the spokesperson said.

“Rangers personnel while responding to the situation fired warning shots in the air but the individual kept on scuffling with the woman; resultantly, a soldier shot and injured the man to arrest him but he later succumbed to his injuries in Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.” He said that inquiry to access the facts has been ordered and details will be made public.