Body disposed of in water -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Body disposed of in water

LAHORE- Some of the police investigators in US journalist Daniel Pearl’s abduction-turned-murder case believe the killers might have disposed of the headless body in water, be it a channel, a canal or a river in Sindh or Punjab, or the Arabian Sea, sources close to the investigation said.

While the Arabian Sea and the rivers are almost impossible to search, there has been police movement of late in areas close to major canals and nullahs in major cities. “Our belief is not based on suspicion, but the fact that the persons who were once close to the main accused Sheikh Omar, as we are told, had beheaded their foreign-national victims and disposed of the bodies in water,” a source said, while referring to a 1995 case in Indian-held Kashmir in which the abductors, who had demanded Sheikh Omar’s release from an Indian jail, had disposed of the body of at least one of abductees in a stream, from where it was incidentally fished out by local residents. The dead was a Jew.

“Its not that the body will never be recovered even if it has been disposed of in Arabian Sea,” said a source close to the investigation, and did refer to a case in point several decades back in which a newly-captured shark disgorged a human arm in aquarium with a tattoo mark which had then led to the identification. “That case did not happen in Pakistan, but there have been dozens and dozens of cases in which the Arabian Sea waded across bodies during currents, a natural phenomenon,” the source said, but admitted the chances of its recovery was were very little.

Other sources said the police in Sindh and Punjab have already drummed up search for the headless body and are checking with police stations record for any such find, particularly the badly-decomposed bodies recovered from water.

Sources said persons close to Sheikh Omar have a history of disposing of the bodies of victims in water. “We believe the body is in water, be it a nullah, a channel, a canal or a river,” a source said, and also did not rule out the possibility that the body might have been disposed of in Arabian Sea, which is prone to such disposals. “If Daniel Pearl had been kept in or around Karachi, we believe the killers might have disposed of the body in Arabian Sea,” the source said, and almost ruled out a bleak possibility that the killers might have buried it.

“Such extremists do not bury a body of a non-Muslim. Instead, they usually dispose it of in water, as the same gang did in 1995 in Indian-held Kashmir where it killed and beheaded foreign-national hostages and disposed of the bodies in a stream, the place where local residents fished out one of the dead, who was a Jew,” another source said. The decomposed body was recovered almost a month and a half after the abduction.

The victims, including one American, had been abducted by a gang, which had later demanded of the Indian Government to release Sheikh Omar, the main accused in Daniel Pearl’s abduction-turned-murder. Sheikh Omar was then in an Indian jail.

In Punjab, beheading a victim is not something new. And in over 90 per cent of such cases, the bodies were disposed of in water, with the killers getting a double benefit. One: Its makes identification almost next to impossible, particularly in this part of the world where the DNA technology does not exist in crime-detection or for that matter identification. Two: Water, and the subsequent air contact after the body’s recovery shoots up the decomposition process, thus destroying important forensic evidence.

In Punjab, there have been several cases throughout the province involving recovery of headless bodies or badly-decomposed torso. “Usually, such incidents take place in villages having a close access to a water channel, though such happened in Lahore as well in mid-90s when at least three headless bodies were recovered from the city canal at different dates at different locations,” a source said. Autopsy findings later hinted that all three might have been killed by the same person or the same gang, but surely with the same weapon.

According to a source, the recovery of a badly decomposed body from the BRB Canal a few days prior to the discovery of Daniel Pearl’s video-recorded murder did initially trigger all sorts of rumours. The victim, with his hands tied up with a scarf, was well-built and apparently strangled. However, the body had been turned unidentifiable, with broken teeth and apparently shallow eyes. On contact, police said the deceased remain unidentified. “The body had been taken out from the canal by armymen,” a policeman said.

Meanwhile, sources close to Karachi police investigators strongly believe Daniel Pearl was dead before his head was chopped off. The video, which is a little over three minutes, shows Daniel Pearl repeatedly uttering: “I am a Jew, and so are all my family members”. He is said to have also made to speak: “Americans will bear the consequences of its government’s support for Israel”.

When contacted, a Punjab police officer admitted the search for Pearl’s body was on throughout the province, but did not elaborate the mode. “We are covering all passable areas,” he said when asked whether or not the search areas include water channels, nullah or canals. “The police is trying to find persons who actually murdered Daniel. At present, only they know where his body is,” he said.

Daniel Pearl went missing last month in Karachi. Twenty nine days after his disappearance, a video received by a Pakistani journalist showed unidentified persons beheading him at an unknown place. After the find, the US and Pakistani governments have officially announced that the Wall Street Journal journalist is dead.

Source: The Nation
Date:2/26/2002