Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Chairman Mohammad Ali Shah has claimed that he was abducted and kept in illegal confinement allegedly by an influential PPP leader in Sindh's Sujawal district.
After being released on Monday, Shah told Dawn that he was kidnapped along with two associates a day earlier. He said he was abducted as a punishment for his proactive role against the illegal occupation of a lake in Sujawal.
Police have not lodged a first information report (FIR) of the incident as yet, however, Shah claimed that although he had approached the relevant police station, the police were reluctant to even record his statement in this regard.
The alleged incident took place within the limits of Ladiyon police station, he said, adding: "We went to Ladiyon police [station] but our statement was not recorded by police."
Shah told Dawn over telephone that they were kept in illegal confinement by the henchmen of a local PPP leader whereas Shah's associates, Noor Mohammad Thaheem and Khadim Wanghai, were subjected to torture.
"I am at a hospital in Sujawal for medical treatment of my two associates. I wasn't harmed but I was certainly detained in the guestroom of the ruling party leader,” Shah said, without naming the PPP leader.
When contacted, Hyderabad DIG Javed Alam Odho said that registration of an FIR is the right of each and every individual. “We will definitely lodge a case but [at this stage] an inquiry needs to be made [into the accusations].
"I have asked Sujawal SSP to record his statement as per requirement,” said Odho.
The PFF has been raising its voice over illegal occupation of freshwater bodies in different areas of Sindh. The forum has been resisting the illegal occupation and demanding the introduction of licence system for fishing.
“There are 500 freshwater bodies which are under illegal control of influential figures in the area. And this lake which I had visited is one of them,” Shah explained while referring to Babli lake in Sujawal district’s Shahbander taluka.
“The influential personality was allegedly erecting embankments around the lake. I visited the lake and took some photographs of it. While we were returning from the spot, around 40 to 50 armed men intercepted us and took us to a village,” the PFF chairperson said while narrating his ordeal.
Shah also alleged that his associate Thaheem was even stripped off his clothes and a video was recorded by his tormentors. He alleged that he himself was detained at the autaq (guesthouse) of a brother of the influential PPP leader.
"Subsequently, the leader’s brother came there to get me freed. It was all just a drama," he said, adding that everything had been done as part of a plan.
The PFF had launched a successful struggle against contract system for fishing at lakes and the Sindh government abolished it while introducing licence system in the province.
"But still lakes and other freshwater bodies are forcibly occupied by influential persons and fishermen are denied their due right," Shah added.
Taking notice of reports about alleged abduction of the PFF chairman, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal directed SSP Thatta to nominate an inquiry officer and immediately submit a report detailing investigation into the incident and legal action taken against the accused persons, a press release said.
With additional reporting by Imtiaz Ali in Karachi.