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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Torture and Abduction Go Unpunished in Pakistan

FAISALABAD, Pakistan: Despite tall claims of the Punjab government regarding provision of speedy justice to the downtrodden and its repeated pledges to make registration of cases hassle-free, those having no money or connections with the powerful continue to suffer. Hafiz Maseeh, 60, a poor resident of Chak 304-JB, is the latest victim of police apathy and alleged partiality of a Punjab Assembly member, who was supposed to be custodian of rights of his electorate.

Hafiz told Dawn that his ordeal began some three-and-a-half months back after he caught son of Haq Nawaz, a resident of same village, while stealing chaff stored outside his house. This, he said, unleashed hell for him and his family.

He said on July 27, Haq Nawaz, his three sons, along with their accomplices barged in his house, carrying clubs, iron rods and weapons. The attackers subjected his daughters Rukhsana and Mafia, and his wife Naseem to brutal torture.

He said that his daughters locked up his only son in a room to save him from the wrath of assailants.

As if it was not enough, the outlaws, on the same day, also abducted his daughter Mafia when she was out along with other women of the area for cotton picking.

He said he immediately reported the torture of her family members to police, along with medico-legal certificates of the injured but they referred the matter to a panchayat headed by MPA Bilal Asghar Warraich. He said the panchayat, after three weeks, ordered him to accept Rs60,000 as compensation for the torture and humiliation of his family members, which he refused.

“On my refusal to accept the money, I was locked in a room of the MPA’s outhouse,” he said, adding when he was brought out after several hours the MPA’s guards again tried to force him into reconciliation with the accused. However, he said, he again refused to succumb to the pressure. Later, he said, he was released after some women approached the MPA’s mother and requested her to intervene.

At last, Gojra Sadar police registered a case against the accused for torturing his wife and daughters. However, no arrest was made as the accused had connections in the right places.

He said the police did not register any abduction case against the accused. Talking on Mr Warriach’s behalf, his political secretary denied Hafiz had been forced to pardon the accused. He claimed MPA’s rivals were spreading such ‘rumours’. However, he admitted the MPA headed the panchayat. He also denied police was barred from arresting the accused. Hafiz also alleged that an ASI asked her to provide 7,000 bricks for construction of DSP’s office which he did. He also alleged the police had been pressuring him to forgive the main accused.

SHO Umer Hayyat admitted no accused had been arrested so far. He also claimed he had yet to hear both parties, failing to explain why he delayed the matter for more than three months. Regarding registration of an abduction case against the accused and police effort, if any, to recover the Hafiz’s daughter, he just said efforts would be made in this regard.

Read it here.

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