KARACHI - The Karachi Police have claimed of getting a major breakthrough regarding the assassination of prominent social worker Perveen Rehman.

Addressing a press conference, District West police chief SSP Captain (r) Azfar Mahesar said finally the police had arrested a key suspect in the murder case of social activist Perveen Rehman.

“Main accused Rahim Swati was arrested during an operation in the city’s Manghopir area.” Police also recovered a 9mm pistol and a hand grenade from his possession. Swati has been booked under Section 353, 324 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and also under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (7-ATA).

Perveen, director of the Orangi Pilot Project, was gunned down by unidentified armed motorcyclists in a drive-by shooting near Banaras Flyover on March 13, 2013. The very next day, police claimed to have killed the alleged mastermind of the assassination plot, a Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan operative identified as Qari Bilal, in an encounter but it had failed to declare him a mastermind later in the investigation.

Another suspect Bilal alias Tension was also taken into custody but he was released by the court last year for less evidence against him. In March 2015, police have arrested one of the prime suspects in Perveen’s murder, Ahmed Khan alias Pappu Kashmiri from Mansehra in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and his son Imran Swati was already arrested in the case.

Following the Supreme Court’s directives, a special police team was formed under the orders of DIG West, Feroz Shah. Under the supervision of SSP West, SP Orangi was selected to lead the operation to nab Swati. The SC on April 15, 2014 ordered the authorities to conduct a fresh probe into the murder after a judicial inquiry revealed that police officers had manipulated the investigation. The police report last year said Rahim was associated with terrorists and the Taliban. During insurgency in past, he along with his family was moved to some unknown place while his house was demolished by the security forces.

SSP Mahesar said the land and water mafias were behind her murder. “Perveen was a vocal activist working against land and water mafias in the city particularly in Orangi Town and this was the reason she was killed,” he explained.

The SSP said Rahim Swati along with five accomplices had murdered the social activist, adding two of the other accused are already in police custody whereas search for the remaining culprits is underway.

Mahesar said it was very difficult to trace and arrest the suspect as he used various methods including different SIM cards to keep his identity hidden. “Dozens of suspects involved in land grabbing, tanker mafia and extortion were also arrested for investigation by a joint interrogation team (JIT). About 15 meetings were held by the JIT, following which a unanimous decision was taken that Swati, who is an active worker of a political party, was the key player in Perveen’s murder and was also involved in ethnic as well as other terror activities. He had also links with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan,” he added.

On the other hand, an elderly woman was killed near Northern Bypass Khyber Mor in a road accident on Saturday. An unidentified vehicle hit the elderly woman when she was crossing the road. She was shifted to hospital where doctors pronounced her dead upon arrival. The identity of the deceased could not be ascertained immediately. However, police have registered a case and started investigation.

Moreover, crackdown against criminals in Karachi continued as 12 more accused were taken into custody during police search operation on late Friday night in Hijrat Colony and its adjacent areas. According to details, police carried out search operation in Hijrat Colony on a tip-off that criminals are present in the area. All the entry and exit points of the area were sealed before the search operation. Police carried out house-to-house search and arrested 12 accused.

The arrested persons were shifted to Whistle Line Police Station for further investigation. Arms were also recovered from their possession.

On the other hand, police have recovered a dead body from Orangi Town. In a separate development, Pirabad Police conducted an operation in Mianwali Colony and arrested a street criminal namely Alam Shah. Police have also recovered arms and a stolen motorcycle from his possession.