Mumtaz Bhutto arrested: Attack on newspaper’s office
KARACHI, Jan 3: Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, a leader of the Sindh National Front and former chief minister, was shifted to Karachi on Saturday following his arrest in Mirpur Bhutto town, near Larkana.
Police officials, however, denied that he had been arrested, saying he was merely in police custody.
Officials said that Mr Bhutto had been detained for threatening the editor of a Karachi daily.
They said he was brought to Karachi on a special plane from Sukkur, but did not say where he was being kept.
Mumtaz Bhutto, a cousin of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was arrested in his home town a day after he was booked by Karachi’s Frere police station over an attack on a Sindhi newspaper’s office in Clifton and threatening its staff with dire consequences for carrying reports against the SNF.
“FIR No.01/2009 has been lodged under sections 147, 148, 149, 506B, 462, 504 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of a senior staffer of daily Awami Awaz. Mr Bhutto is in police custody and not under arrest,” said a senior police official said.
The newspaper’s administration has accused some armed SNF members of having scuffled with the staff a couple of days ago and later threatening journalists working in the Awami Awaz.
However, the SNF denied the allegations and said the arrest was a part of political victimisation.
“My father is being victimised for criticising Asif Ali Zardari,” said Ameer Baksh Bhutto, a son of Mumtaz Bhutto.
“SNF workers visited the newspaper’s office in a goodwill gesture and complained that the newspaper is not giving due coverage to the party. The government has found an excuse to pursue its undemocratic agenda.”
M.B. Kalhoro adds from Larkana: As word of Mumtaz Bhutto’s arrest spread, Larkana was partially closed and protests were held in various towns around the city.
Mr Bhutto was arrested after a heavy police contingent, led by DIG Larkana and DPO Irfan Baloch, surrounded his native village.
He was later shifted to Sukkur airport so that he could be flown to Karachi. Mumtaz Bhutto talked to Dawn over cell phone while being shifted to the airport.
He said the government had been planning to arrest him for a long time because he was the only person who had openly been talking about unmasking Benazir Bhutto’s killers.
“The killers of Mir Murtaza Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto are the same.”
He said everything was being done on instructions from the President’s House.
“When Asif Zardari says he knows the killers of Benazir Bhutto it comes under the Section 216 of CrPC. I have asked my party workers to remain peaceful but if anyone has protested, I appreciate it.”
Speaking at a press conference in Larkana, vice-chairman of SNF Amir Bakhsh Bhutto condemned the arrest and said that it would not deter the party from highlighting injustices against Sindh and “revealing the truth about the murders of Mir Murtaza and Benazir Bhutto”.
He gave a call for a strike across Sindh to protest Mumtaz Bhutto’s arrest on Jan 4.