KARACHI: While the caretaker chief minister of Sindh had formed a three-member body to conduct an inquiry into a deadly raid that led to the killing of four persons in a Sakrand village, civil society, political parties and victim families demanded a judicial probe and arrest of those responsible for the killing of “innocent peasants”.
On Thursday, police and Rangers had claimed to have conducted an intelligence-based operation in the Sakran village, Mari Jalbani. The law enforcers faced resistance during their action and a scuffle led to firing which claimed lives of four villagers and injuries to five others. Four Rangers personnel also suffered injuries.
Victim families took the coffins of their loved ones and staged a sit-in on the main National Highway, demanding justice. Caretaker CM retired Justice Maqbool Baqar on Friday set up an inquiry committee comprising Hyderabad commissioner, DIG Benazirabad and DIG Special Branch and directed them to submit their report within four days.
Later, upon his instructions, the villagers had lodged an FIR and ended their protest on Friday evening.
Villagers, law enforcers lodge counter FIRs
Protest by Shehri Awami Mahaz
On Saturday, a large number of social, political workers, labourers and members of the civil society gathered for a protest demonstration organised by the Shehri Awami Mahaz (SAM) outside the Karachi Press Club.
They demanded that the suspects involved in the Sakrand tragedy be arrested as soon as possible so that the bereaved families of the victims get justice.
Those who spoke on the occasion included SAM leader Gul Rehman, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Zehra Khan of Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF), Asad Butt of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Ramzan Memon of National Party, Aqib Hussain of Alternate, Mahnaz Rahman of Women Rights Activist, Saira Feroz of United HB Garment Workers Union, Comrade Jannat of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, Khalid Zadgran.
They all carried placards and banners demanding the arrest of the government officials involved in the killings, the sacking of the Sindh Home Minister and compensation for the bereaved families.
They said that the police and Rangers repeated the tragedy of Tando Bago at village Mari Jalbani of Sakrand.
“It is heartening that the whole of Sindh is protesting against this tragedy. It is Sindh’s bad luck that the Rangers are present here in the name of law and order even though lawlessness is at its peak there,” said NTUF’s Nasir Mansoor.
The protesters demanded the immediate sacking of the home minister. They asked for an unbiased caretaker home minister belonging to Sindh province. They asked for a commission comprising judges of high court and representatives of citizens to be formed to probe the incident.
JSM asks home minister to resign
Jeay Sindh Mahaz (Chandio) chairman Riaz Ali Chandio led a protest at Nasim Nagar Chowk to demand a judicial probe into the killings and resignation of the home minister.
He rejected the committee formed by the caretaker CM, saying that the government should fulfil its promise of judicial probe into the incident.
He warned that if a judicial probe was not conducted, the highway would be blocked again.
He said if the Sindh government didn’t approach the high court for an inquiry by next week, then a Sindh wide protest would be held.
Villagers, law enforcers lodge separate FIRs
Counter-cases have been lodged at the Mari Jalbani police station after Thursday’s episode.
Details of the FIR registered on behalf of the state about the ‘intelligence-based’ operation, however, could not be known.
The second FIR (no 39/23) was registered on the complaint of Rahib Jalbani, a brother of deceased Sajawal Jalbani, under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 324 (attempted murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code. No one was nominated by name in the FIR.
Rahib Jalbani in the FIR said that they were sitting in Ali Nawaz Jalbani’s house when five police mobiles and one black and one white Vigos of law enforcers arrived there. Some 40-45 people in uniform and 10 in plain clothes got off the vehicle. He said that they were told by the law enforcers that they were terrorists and they would not let them (residents) off and kill them and opened fire on villagers.
DC recommends judicial probe
The deputy commissioner had sent a letter to his high-ups about the incident and stated that protesters believed that a judicial inquiry was necessary.
“It [judicial inquiry] will ensure fairness and impartiality in the investigation process, restore public faith and provide an unbiased platform for affected parties to present their grievances,” read the letter.
Sindh United Party president Zain Shah said that Sindh Home Minister retired Haris Nawaz wanted to offer condolences to villagers and it was allowed by heirs that he could visit them.
“There was unrest until Thursday following minister’s statement about presence of suicide bombers in village,” he said.
He said that the deceased were indeed his voters in his constituency, but they were apolitical and he supported their cause.
Villagers were haris
Samad Arain, a landowner of Sakrand, told Dawn: “I own land in Nagar Chandio area of Sakrand. The four villagers were my haris since 2013. I hired them for my land through some friend and apparently the deceased had no criminal record in village.”
Of them, he said, two were real brothers and two were cousins. “In fact they are from the same family,” he said and added they perhaps didn’t know bike riding.
Police sources claimed that law enforcers wanted to arrest Hareef Jalbani and his associates.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2023