HRCP, JWP demand end to HR violations
KARACHI: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and a leader of the Jamhoori Watan Party, Saleem Baloch, who had allegedly been kidnapped and tortured for eight months by the law-enforcement agencies before being freed recently, have demanded that all those kept in illegal custody be released immediately. Addressing a press conference at the HRCP office here on Wednesday, Mr Baloch, Senior Vice-President of the JWP, narrated his over eight-month ordeal, claiming that he had been subjected to mental torture during the thorough interrogation.
He and several HRCP leaders present on the occasion demanded respect to law and human rights on the part of the government and its functionaries, stressing that anyone picked up on suspicion of his involvement in a crime should be put to trial and their relatives be informed about his arrest as provided under the law.They said every detainee had the right to defend himself through lawyers, who should be allowed to meet the captive.Mr Baloch said he had been picked up in Lyari by agency men in plainclothes riding police mobiles and private vehicles in March 2006 and released only on Dec 14.According to him, during the detention, he was taken to a combined military hospital where a doctor in military uniform conducted his physical examination and gave him some ordinary medicines.
An eye surgery was also suggested but not carried out.“Most of the time I would was kept blindfolded whereas my face was covered with a black head-cover down to the neck every time I was moved from one place to the other. I was also made to wear a shuttlecock burqa.”Mr Baloch spoke of many people having interrogated him at a time during his captivity, and said they would usually seek information about Nawab Akber Bugti, Attaullah Mengal and the Baloch Liberation Army.The other questions pertained to the clue to, what they had been claiming, the Rs500 million worth arms and ammunition; JWP’s terms and dealings with a neighbouring Islamic country; the party’s connections with Mullah Umer, Osama bin Laden, etc.
He claimed that although he spent much of the time in solitary confinement, he was also put in the cells where many other Marri and Bugti tribesmen picked up by the agency men had been kept. They included Ahmad Khan Marri, Ameen Marri, Bilal (a Shia youth from Karachi), Hafiz Tariq, Haji Dad Mengal, Haji Gul, Haji Raheem Marri, Karim Marri, Mir Asghar Khan Marri, Misri Khan Marri, Mitha Khan Marri, Murad Bakhsh Marri, Saeed Brohi, Shahnawaz Marri and Abdul Rauf Sasoli.Saleem Baloch told the newsmen that when he was being released, his captors returned his belongings — a mobile phone and Rs91 in cash — seized by them at the time of the ‘arrest’.
He said they had also warned him against approach any court, civil society organisation, NGO or media, else he would be taken away again. He said his family was never informed of his whereabouts since his disappearance. “My family had to dispose of our property to meet the expenses that were being incurred on locating me.” According to him, he had been subjected to torture which was so intense that he thrice attempted suicide.Speaking on the occasion, Asad Iqbal Butt and Ejaz Ahsan of the HRCP informed newsmen that more than 400 people had gone missing since the 9/11 event in similar circumstances that were narrated by the JWP leader.Such disappearances were rare before that incident, they pointed out. In this context, they said that 70 of the missing people, including 20 Shia youth (students), had been picked up in Karachi during the current year.