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Widow alleges she is being harassed by police, landlord

Karachi:On the busy Allama Iqbal Road at Tariq Road’s Liberty Chowk, is a small homely cafe called Laziz Fruit Chat. Occasionally passers-by and tired shoppers stop in for cool milk shake, or a creamy fruit chat to kill their hunger pangs. However, most people are not aware of the sordid dispute featuring the owners, tenants and police associated with the place.

Nighat Lateef, who runs the business, told The News that her husband, Mohammad Lateef committed suicide two years ago, by shooting himself with a pistol. “He suffered from intense depression and eventually one day shot himself. After that I have had to support my three small children, and this is the only means I have.”

Rao Zakariya, the owner of a photocopy and stationary shop in the adjacent lane says, he has been helping Nighat because he is a ‘community worker’. “I have helped many people in this neighbourhood, who need support, because I am involved in community work,” he says. “But in this case I have been tangled up so badly that I do not have any idea what to do next. I must have lost around Rs0.5 million in this whole process, by paying for Nighat’s bails and all the other expenses.”

The problems of the café apparently began after Lateef killed himself. The police took away the pistol and later lost it, after which Nighat with the help of Zakariya filed a complaint to the Ferozabad police saying that they had lost the pistol, which was now licensed in her name. When Nighat made the complaint, a police officer — Sub Inspector (SI) Irfan — in-charge of the investigation, told her that if she withdraws the complaint they would give her 50,000 rupees. Nighat agreed, afterwards SI Irfan started blackmailing her for 25,000 rupees out of the total amount at which Nighat refused to give in.

Nighat’s real troubles started when a character called Shahid Mehmood a.k.a. Sunaar started threatening her to vacate the shop. “My husband (Lateef) received this shop on the Pagri system,” she says. “The landlord, Nazaat had been asking him to vacate the building. So before Lateef killed himself, he had made a deal with Nazaat according to which he would pay Rs0.1 million in cash and the rest he would pay in installments. But when Lateef died, Nazaat issued an incorrect receipt which stated that the man owed him Rs0.96 million. In the Pagri system there is no receipt.”

According to Nighat, she offered to pay the rent, however, Nazaat refused since she was a widow. While, behind the scenes he was working on something else. Zakariya says that soon after, Nazaat sent his nephew, Shahid Mehmood ‘Sunaar’ who is allegedly involved in various cases concerning the gold business, to the shop.

When Mehmood arrived, he threatened Nighat to vacate it. When she refused, he beat her up, as well as her cashier, Nadeem. Later Nighat discovered that they had also emptied the entire day’s cash.

When Zakariya took Nighat to the police station, they discovered that Mehmood was already there and had lied to the police about the entire incident before they could be indicted for creating trouble. “This was around September 10,” says Nighat, “and when I went outside, I saw SI Irfan in plain clothes. I asked him what was going on, and he said to me ‘if you do not work with us, then things like this are bound to happen. I realised this was in connection with the refusal to pay him the Rs25, 000 back from the pistol case.”

After a couple of days, Mehmood again lodged a complaint saying that Nighat had brought some men from Lyari and robbed gold from him at gun point. “Its laughable that he said that he had almost a kilo of gold in his front pocket, and that we had it stolen at gun point,” says Zakariya, shaking his head.

SP Jamshed Town, Javed Akbar Riaz told The News that both the parties were out on bail, and in fact both had lodged FIRs against each other in the police station. They had both been arrested. “It is basically, in short, a property dispute. They are fighting over the place itself, and the case is already in court.”

A similar statement was given by the ex-SHO of Ferozabad police station, Nayyar-ul-Haq. “This is a small case, it is their personal dispute, and they are simply fighting over the matter and continue to threaten each other with the police. As for the FIRs not being lodged, that is an invalid complaint. Nighat and Zakariya are accusing us of taking money, which is not true, because we filed both the FIRs on the same date and the same time, and we have not done any bias in doing so. The police do not have anything to do with this except the investigation, because the case is now with the court of law.”

The case remains unresolved to date, and even though the business is running at the moment, Nighat says that she is still getting threats from Mehmood that she could get shot any day if she does not leave. “It is not that I am afraid to face this problem, but to make me go through this harassment and to not receive any kind of support from the police, I find it quite unfair. I have three small children at home, and I have to support them.”

“I have not been part of this case, I was only a mediator, but in doing so, I too was dragged in and named in the FIR and accused of having stolen gold from the landlord’s nephew. This statement is not only incorrect, it is a stain on my reputation and it is unfair that we both have been cornered like this,” said Zakariya.
Source: The News:
Date:10/17/2008

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