On February 15, the Islamabad police raided the Excise and Taxation Office (ETO) in the city to clear it of touts. What the raid really achieved aside, a ghost certainly arose from a body found the day after, hidden in bushes in the city’s H-11/3 sector, and is haunting the police.
Sabzi Mandi police removed the body to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences for an autopsy, established the identity of the dead man as Bashir Ahmad Shahzad Bangash the same day, and informed his family members in Kohat. They came and after confirming his identity, took the body to his hometown. They buried him on February 17, only to raise his ghost three weeks later.
On March 8, Hassan Mansoor lodged a complaint with the office of the inspector general of police (IGP) Islamabad that Bangash was his brother-in-law and police and personnel had murdered him.
However, Bangash’s death appears at best an unresolved mystery, as his name does not appear among the 124 suspected touts the police detained during the February 15 raid. He figures neither among the 44 cleared of the suspicion and freed, nor among the 80 suspects charged as touts and sent to jail.
When Dawn asked Mr Mansoor why it took him so long to allege murder when he claims the family spotted marks of injuries on Bangash’s head and legs before the burial, he had no straight answer.
Instead, he weaved events and names to support his allegation.
“We were in the dark until his co-workers came to Kohat to condole his death and narrated the events,” he said, noting that Bangash dealt in purchasing and selling vehicles and as such was a frequent visitor to ETO.
“We checked and verified what they told us and, after consultations, decided to lodge the complaint with the IGP,” he said.
Bangash, according to Mr Mansoor, was in the ETO compound with two persons – Mubashir Javed and Ghufran Khan – for the registration of a vehicle, when police arrived there to catch touts. “Bangash was carrying Rs300,000 he had borrowed from me,” he said.
A man named Kamran was quoted by him as telling the family that the same day he received a telephone call from Bangash saying he was being held at a police station.
“On February 16, our acquaintance Hameed was informed by the police that Bangash was in the hospital. After we got that information I, with Fazal Mehmood, Mohammad Umar and Hasan Irfan, reached Pims where the police told us to identify a body they had found. We recognized it as that of Bangash,” said Mr Mansoor.
It was Hameed’s identity card found on Bangash’s person, that helped police establish his identity and contact the family.
In the complaint that he lodged with the IGP office on the basis of these events, Mr Mansoor accused five personnel of the police and ETO of torturing his brother-in-law to death.
Police say the autopsy conducted at Pims hospital spoke of no torture marks. But Investigation Office Assitant Superintendent Sajid would discuss the case with Dawn “only after I am discharged from the hospital and not until the chemical examiner report arrives”.
Another police officer, however, suspected that “the tout mafia is using complainant Mansoor to malign the police and the ETO”.
All 80 suspected touts arrested in the police raid were taken to court the next day where the magistrate sent them to jail on judicial remand. Since “no recoveries were to be made nor interrogation required” physical remand was not sought, he explained.
“That Bangash’s name was not in the FIR registered against them suggests that he was not arrested,” the officer said. “So why would police keep one person in custody and torture him as alleged by the complainant?” he asked.
Meanwhile, the IGP office has asked the senior superintendent of police to look into Mr Mansoor’s complaint. In turn, he has appointed the Industrial Area superintendent of police to inquire into the allegation and establish the facts.
“We are waiting for the chemical examiner report to establish the cause of Bangash’s death. That, together with the findings of the inquiry, will establish the facts,” said the officer.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2016