HYDERABAD: Sindh has witnessed a spate of enforced disappearances of political and nationalist activists over the past few months. Most of the victims are activists or supporters of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Arisar (JSQM-A) and proscribed Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) whereas a few belong to some other nationalist groups and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L).
Relatives of many of these missing persons last Wednesday launched a ‘long march’ from Hyderabad to Karachi and are scheduled to arrive in the port city on July 15. Also, relatives of some activists whose whereabouts are not known after being allegedly taken away by law enforcers had observed a hunger strike from June 25 to July 1 outside the Karachi Press Club.
It was the JSQM-A, currently headed by Dr Mir Alam Marri, that came up with the figures of what it believes to be victims of enforced disappearance belonging to it and some other nationalist groups.
The issue of enforced disappearances had been in the headlines intermittently over the last few years. In recent instances, some such victims, belonging to the JSMM and certain other nationalist groups, were found murdered. Their mutilated bodies were dumped at different places in Sindh. The JSQM-A claims that its eight activists/supporters have gone missing over the last two months and believes that they have been picked up by men in civvies.
“Their whereabouts remain unknown. Only Hoshu Qambrani has been challaned [chargesheeted] in a cracker explosion case by the Hyderabad police recently,” says Marri, who formerly worked with the JSMM.
It has named the eight victims as Bux Ali Mughairi, the party’s Qambar Shahdadkot president; Ejaz Tunio, a member; Sabir Chandio, a central committee member; and supporters Murtaza Junejo, Hidayat Lohar, Suhbat Khoso, Khadim Hussain Arijo and Mohammad Ayub Kandhro.
According to the party, Subhat Khoso has been missing since March 2011. Bux Ali Mughairi was first picked up in connection with a case registered after the JSMM’s strike call for Feb 20, 2017. He obtained his bail from a court after 10 days. However, he was picked up again on March 3 from outside the Qambar-Shahdadkot sessions court. Ejaz Tunio was also picked up in a strike-related case and was released on bail. He is missing since April 17 from the same district. The JSQM-A further claims that Hidayat Lohar and Khadim Hussain Arijo were picked up on April 17, Sabir Chandio on April 25, Mohammad Ayub Kandhro on April 27 and Murtaza Junejo on May 7.
Except for Ayub Kandhro, all other missing persons have past links with the JSMM. “I don’t find any reason for their disappearances now,” Dr Marri says, adding that they were either government employees or private workers. “They did have political-cum-nationalist views,” he says.
According to Punhal Sario of the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, family members of seven of the missing persons are participating in the long march.
‘Others also missing’
There are more activists and supporters belonging to other nationalist parties who are missing, JSQM-A claims, citing examples of Mohammad Ibrahim Chandio, an activist of the Sindh United Party (SUP) who was going to Sann to attend G.M. Syed’s anniversary in April this year when he went missing; Urs Hingoro, Hyder Khoso, Taufiq alias Arsalan, Asghar Brohi and Sohail Raza Bhatti are also unaccounted for. Hoshu Qambrani was picked up from Badin on March 31 and was chargesheeted by Hyderabad’s Makki Shah police in a cracker explosion case.
Khadim Arijo, 52, is a BS-17 official of the food department. His daughter, Neelam Arijo, claims that her father had dissociated himself from JSMM in 2006 and had issued a written statement in this regard, a copy of which was sent to security agencies. She said her father had never been picked up while he had remained associated with JSMM.
Mr Arijo was picked up along with 22-year-old Shayan, the son of his cousin, on April 17. Shayan was let off three days later.
Ayub Kandhro’s brother, Ghulam Abbas, says he [Ayub] was a supporter of JSQM-A but had remained inactive since the death of the party chief, Abdul Wahid Arisar.
Suhbat Khoso and his brother Qabil Khoso were picked up by police and men in civvies on March 17, 2011 at Ranipur toll plaza in Khairpur district. Qabil says he along with another nationalist activist, Ikhtiar Chandio, was freed in Ghotki on Aug 22, 2011. “We remained together for three months,” he recalls. He has been pursuing the case of his brother’s release in the apex court.
Violence and non-violence
Dr Marri says Sohail Raza Bhatti, who was picked up on Sept 17, 2015, was working with the Qurban Khuhawar Yadgaar Committee. “Perhaps he was picked up for his past links with JSMM,” he says, pointing out that no criminal case was registered against him.
Serai Qurban Khuhawar, along with Noorulalh Tunio, Roplo Cholyani and Nadir Bugti (said to be a friend of Qurban from Balochistan) was killed in a mysterious fire on April 21, 2011 off Khipro-Chotiari Road at Bakhoro Mori, some six kilometres from Sanghar. “JSQM-A believes in non-violence to pursue non-parliamentary path of politics for an independent Sindh. We, indeed, raise voice for those killed mysteriously. It is a question of civil liberties,” says Dr Marri but strongly differs with JSMM’s methodology of politics.
Months after the Aug 22, 2016 ‘hate’ speech by Altaf Hussain, some of his followers went missing and his MQM (now called MQM-L) dubs such incidents ‘enforced disappearance’. It says eight party activists have been missing since April this year in Hyderabad alone. It identifies them as Abid Ghauri (April 1), Khalid Qureshi (May 23), Mohsin Qureshi and Moeed Gaddi (June 21), Rao Umer and his brother Rao Saad (June 22), Inayat Shaikh and Syed Aman Ali Rizvi (July 3).
Some MQM-L activists had also gone missing in March 2016 but ended up in the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) when they resurfaced. Among them are Nadeem Qazi, allegedly picked up by Rangers personnel on May 24; he remained in captivity for 47 days. He is now organiser of the PSP’s Hyderabad district chapter. Others such ‘missing’ MQM-L activists who resurfaced in the PSP include Akhtar Hussain, Junaid, Kashif and Shakeeluddin.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2017