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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Aziz Memon Murder: Sindh government forms a toothless JIT, experts raise questions

Memon’s body was recovered from a river on February 16 with a wire wrapped around his neck. The reporter had earlier accused the regional Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership as well as Naushehro Feroze police of threatening him.

In contrast to the claims made by police in a briefing to the National Assembly standing committee, the autopsy report of the slain journalist, Aziz Memon, revealed that Memon died as a result of asphyxiation.

Memon, a journalist associated with a regional Sindhi channel and newspaper, was found murdered last month in Naushehro Feroze.

Memon’s body was recovered from a river on February 16 with a wire wrapped around his neck. The reporter had earlier accused the regional Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership as well as Naushehro Feroze police of threatening him for unflattering reporting of party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s ‘train march’ in 2019.

The autopsy report came a day after the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Interior was informed that Sindhi journalist Aziz Memon had died a natural death as the medical report did not confirm any violence or poisoning.

Read More: Aziz Memon, a journalist critical of PPP, died a natural death, NA told

Hyderabad Additional Inspector General Police Dr Waliullah Dal and other police officers briefed the committee, chaired by Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz, that journalist Aziz Memon was the patient of hypertension, sugar and his medical report did not confirm any murder.

He said Memon’s brother had nominated the deceased’s fellow cameramen in the First Information Report (FIR). The cameraman, who brought him to Rohri Canal had already been arrested. Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was being constituted on request of the deceased’s brother to probe the real cause of the death of the journalist will be notified within a day or so.

JIT raises questions

The constitution of the JIT has raised many a question about its impartiality as the police officer who declared the reported murder of the journalist natural occurrence had been appointed head of the probe body.

Apart from that, the JIT  doesn’t have any representative from other security agencies except the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Earlier, Murtaza Wahab, the Sindh government spokesperson, tweeted: “As requested by the family of murdered journalist Aziz Memon, JIT has been constituted by #SindhGovt. We believe in ensuring that justice is always done.”

“On the recommendation of Inspector General of Police Sindh, Karachi… and with the approval of the Competent Authority i.e. Chief Minister, Sindh, the Home Department, Government of Sindh is pleased to constitute the Joint investigation comprising of the following in case FIR No.22/2020 u/s 302/364/147-PPC of PS Mehrabpur, District Naushehro Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad Range regarding murder of (deceased Senior Journalist Aziz Memon of KTN/Kawish) to ensure that real motives and culprits involved in such heinous act are exposed,” read a notification.

The JIT comprises of SSP Naushehro Feroze, SSP Benazirabad, representative of IB and Special Branch, Dr Ikram ud Din Ujjan, Dean of Basic Medical Sciences at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Prof Dr Muhammad Akbar Qazir, Forensic Sciences and Toxicology Department chairman, Dr Shakeel Ahmed, senior research officer,  and a police surgeon.

Aziz Memon, A Brave Journalist

Last year, Aziz Memon reported on the rented demonstrators hired for Bilawal Bhutto’s train march. He was found dead in a canal. Police suspect it to be murder by strangulation as a wire was found wrapped around his neck.

Aziz Memon was associated with KTN in Interior Sindh and had reported that PPP rented hundreds of poor people from nearby villages to welcome Bilawal Bhutto during his long march on the train from Karachi to Larkana last year. These rented people were hired to arrange a sham grand welcome for Bilawal Bhutto on the railway station, crafting the optics of PPP’s wide following across Sindh.

Read More: Sharjeel Memon indictment shows the discriminatory role institutions play for PPP and PML-N

In his story, he added that MNA PPP Syed Abrar Ali Shah and Town Municipal Committee Halani had hired people initially to welcome Bilawal Bhutto for Rs.2000 each but they ended giving up Rs.200 to people after which the rented demonstrators protested and he reported the incident.

A few days ago, his video informing the authorities about threats to life emerged on social media. Unfortunately, no timely action was taken by the authorities and police to save Aziz Memon’s life.

In his video, he alleged that local PPP leadership and SSP Naushero Feroze are threatening him and his family ever since he reported the story. He said his children are harassed by these people. He pleaded for shelter probably in Islamabad to save his life.

Read More: Murder of journalist: A question over freedom of expression in Sindh

He said he does not have any party affiliations, nor with PTI or PPP, and he is a neutral journalist that he declared in his oath as well. He also requested Bilawal Bhutto to save his life. In a message to PPP’s chairperson, he said that Bilawal Bhutto is a rational man, who must understand that like any other journalist he just reported the incident and that that was not a fabricated story because the complainants were also shown.

It is yet to be seen whether the murderers are brought before the world or not. However, analysts maintain that the PPP has conveyed a strong message to the local media houses that anyone who points out flaws in governance or politics of the PPP shall meet the same fate.