Balochistan Minister for Communication and Works Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran was arrested on Wednesday on “suspicion of killing three people” in the province’s Barkhan district, police said.
The arrest comes after bullet-riddled bodies of a woman and her two sons were found from a well near the minister’s residence in the Barkhan area late on Monday night.
Khan Muhammad Marri, a citizen, has alleged that the bodies were of his wife and two sons. “These are the bodies of my wife and two sons who were kept in a private jail in Haji Kot for the last four years,” he said, identifying them as his 40-year-old wife Granaz, and sons Muhammad Anwar (22) and Abdul Qadir (15).
Marri alleged that his wife and sons were being held in Khetran’s private jail, adding that five more of his children, including his 13-year-old daughter, were still languishing there.
It is pertinent to mention that the minister has denied the allegation and termed the entire incident as “propaganda created to tarnish his political repute”.
In the statement released today, a spokesperson for the Balochistan police said: “Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran has been arrested on suspicion of killing three people in Barkhan.”
The statement said that a special investigation team had begun interrogating the minister, adding that raids were also being conducted to recover the “hostages” without elaborating further.
The police spokesperson said further arrests were expected to take place.
Protest in Quetta continues for second straight day
Meanwhile, Marri tribesmen continued their sit-in outside the Red Zone in Quetta for the second consecutive day on Wednesday. Protesters staged a sit-in in Quetta along with the bodies and told Dawn.com that the demonstration would continue until a first information report (FIR) was registered against Khetran.
The demonstrators also announced that they would not call off their demonstration or bury the bodies until Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid them a visit.
Separately, while talking to Dawn.com, Marri said that there was a threat to him and his children. “My family is receiving death threats”.
He demanded that protection be provided to him so that he could visit his deceased family members.
In a tweet today, former prime minister Imran Khan also demanded immediate action against the “law of the jungle”.
Home minister writes to law enforcement agencies
On Wednesday morning, Balochistan Minister for Home Affairs Mir Ziaullah Langove wrote a letter to the law enforcement agencies seeking the “safe recovery” of Marri’s family members.
The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was addressed to the additional chief secretary of Balochistan, inspector general of police, joint director of the Intelligence Bureau, The Headquarter Inter-Services Intelligence and Headquarter Military Intelligence.
It stated with “grave concern” that some of Muhammad Khan Marri’s family were still “missing”, which “generates a bad impact on law and order as well as on the image of law enforcement agencies”.
“It is the responsibility of all law enforcement agencies to protect the life of the public,” the letter pointed out.
“Keeping in view of the above, it is stated that immediate steps be taken for the safe recovery of all remaining family members and a report therefore may be submitted in the office of the undersigned within 24 hours, positively,” it added.
Yesterday, Langove had said that a five-member JIT has been constituted headed by DIG Loralai, which would submit its report within 30 days.
Discovery of bodies
Locals had informed the authorities about the presence of the three bodies in the well, after which levies personnel and other security officials rushed to the site and recovered the bodies.
Police said that unknown people had thrown the bodies in a deep well after killing the mother and her two sons. The bodies had bullet wounds in their skulls and bore marks of torture, which pointed to their cause of death, hospital officials in Kohlu said after examining the bodies.
Their hands and feet were tied with ropes, while the woman’s face was crushed, they said.
They were identified by Abdul Qayoom Bijrani Marri, whom the police described as an heir. The bodies were handed over to him after the completion of legal requirements, the police added.
Khetran denies allegations
Khetran has denied the allegation and termed it a conspiracy. It was an attempt to defame and remove him as the tribal head of the Khetran tribe, the minister said.
He said that the bodies were recovered one-and-a-half kilometres away from his native village while he was not in Barkhan and had been in Quetta for more than a week.
“I have not kept anyone in prison and such allegations are always levelled whenever elections are near,” Sardar Khetran said, accusing one of his own sons, Inam Shah, of opposing him.
However, Inam Shah denied his father’s allegations and confirmed that the three people whose bodies were recovered from the well had been kept in his father’s “private jail”.
Khetran and private jails
In January 2014, the police and ATF had conducted a raid at Khetran’s private jail.
The police had said seven people, including two women and three children, were recovered from the private jail. Six proclaimed absconders were also picked up by ATF and police. Police recovered arms and ammunition from their possession.
Khetran had at the time surrendered to police in the aftermath of the registration of the kidnapping case against him at Barkhan Police Station. Police had registered cases against Khetran, his son and eight others for kidnapping three policemen and snatching weapons from them.
Before that in November 2006, the Supreme Court had ordered the Balochistan police to arrest and produce Khetran within a week for his alleged involvement in the forced marriages of two minor girls and abduction of their five relatives, besides running a private jail in his area.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising then-chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi and Justice Saiyed Saeed Ashhad, while hearing an application of Issa Khan, had also directed the provincial police to recover the five kidnapped relatives of the minor girls from his private jail.
The bench was told that Khetran had ordered the forced marriage of two minors, which the relatives of the minors declined to accept. Consequently, he had abducted five male members of the family and allegedly subjected them to torture in his private jail.
Additional reporting by Ismail Sasoli.
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