QUETTA: Deputy Collec­tor of Customs Dr Abdul Qudoos Sheikh, who was badly beaten up by a group of armed smugglers in Quetta last week, succumbed to his injuries in a hospital in Karachi on Tuesday.

On July 3, masked armed men had attacked Dr Sheikh when was returning to Quetta after seizing a container load of smuggled high-value goods in an operation in the Kolpur area.

As the staff was busy in completing the legal formalities, Dr Sheikh was forcibly stopped near Gahi Khan Chowk by two vehicles of armed men who rammed their jeeps into his official car. The assailants forcibly pulled him out of his vehicle and brutally assaulted him with SMG butts and then escaped, leaving him critically injured in a pool of blood.

After receiving information about the incident, the customs officials and police rushed to the site and took Dr Sheikh to Civil Hospital, Quetta, from where he was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital, Quetta, as his condition was critical.

Later, the customs authorities shifted him on a chartered plane to a private hospital in Karachi where he died on Tuesday morning.

“Such is the cost that the Customs Department pays for, in the line of duty, however this often goes unrecognised,” said a senior customs official.

This was not the first attack on customs officials engaged in anti-smuggling operations as in the past three years, 10 officers/officials have lost their lives and dozens were injured. Besides the fatalities, there have been notable instances of staff being kidnapped, especially in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to browbeat the Customs Department, into submission besides loss/damage to state infrastructure.

The Balochistan home department has formed a special committee to probe the deputy collector’s murder on the request of the inspector general of police.

According to a notification issued by the home department, the committee headed by the SSP investigation Quetta will have a member each from the Counter Terrorism Department, Crime Branch, Inter-Services Intelli­gence, Military Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Customs as well as the senior public prosecutor.

The committee has been asked to conduct investigation and submit its report within 30 days.

After registering an FIR of the murder, Quetta police have already arrested three suspects, including a businessman.

Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani express­ed grief and sorrow over the death of Dr Sheikh and said the elements behind the brutality would not be spared.

In a statement, he said that Dr Sheikh was an honest and committed officer and his death was a big loss of the province. “Those who are involved in his murder shall receive no mercy.”

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2019