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KARACHI: Mengal sent back to prison after NICVD tests

March 04, 2008

KARACHI, March 3: Balochistan National Party (Mengal) president and former chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal was brought to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases on Monday amid tight security.

His family had complained that he was suffering from a cardiac problem, but was deprived of proper treatment. Directives were issued by the Interior Ministry to the Sindh government for a medical examination of the incarcerated Mr Mengal on Sunday night. Earlier, the Sindh IG (prisons) had rejected the impression that the detained politician was suffering from a cardiac condition.

Mr Mengal is facing trial on charges of taking hostage two officials of the Military Intelligence and torturing them in his DHA house. An FIR (170/2006) was registered at the Darakhshan police station following a day-long stand-off between the law-enforcement agencies and a few Mengals besieged in their Khayaban-i-Shamsheer residence in 2006.

Four servants of Sardar Mengal have already been convicted and sentenced in the case.

The former chief minister of Balochistan was examined for over three hours by a team of three doctors -- Prof Azhar Ali Farooqi, Dr Tariq Ashraf and Dr Ishtiaq Rasool -- during his stay at the NICVD. Different tests, including ECG (electrocardiogram), were performed.

None of the doctors were willing to talk to the media, but sources in the Institute said Akhtar Mengal had been advised to again visit the hospital on Wednesday for more tests.

Mr Mengal was brought to the NICVD in an armored personnel carrier at around 11am amid tight security. A heavy contingent of jail police, area police, Muhafiz force and personnel of the Military Intelligence accompanied the Baloch leader.

Patients visiting the institute suffered hardship due to the heavy police presence at the entrance of the emergency ward as well as on the hospital premises.

In a brief talk to a few newsmen, while being escorted out of the hospital, the former chief minister said: “One can only pray for the country that it gets out of its current plight”.

Referring to his health, Mr Mengal said it was in the government’s hands. “They can make us ill at their will.”

In reply to a question, he said: “Why will the PPP contact us in government formation? We don’t have any MNAs or MPAs.”

After the examination, he was taken away in a Corolla with black glasses that was parked at the casualty ward’s entrance.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal was placed under house arrest at the Lasi Farm in Sakran, near Hub, and it was declared a sub-jail.

In December 2006 an SP of Karachi police was sent to seek custody of Sardar Mengal because he was wanted in FIR 170/2006 registered at the Darakhshan police station. The team arrested him and brought him to Karachi.

However, the reported reluctance on part of the then CCPO Karachi cost him his posting as the Military Intelligence was annoyed with him over the issue.

Govt criticised

The Balochistan National Party has criticized the government for shifting Sardar Akhtar Mengal from the NICVD back to the central prison “against the advice of the doctors and without completing his medical tests”.

Claiming that Mr Mengal’s condition had deteriorated after he was shifted from the NICVD to the prison, BNP leader Akhtar Hussain Lango warned that if any thing happened to Mr Mengal, the rulers would be held responsible for it.

Mr Lango, who was accompanied by Baloch nationalist leaders Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Tahir Bizenjo, Hameed Sajna and PML-N leader Salim Zia, said the way Mr Mengal was shifted without his medical check-up on the instruction of MI officials proved that the Baloch leader was brought to the hospital only to hoodwink people.

He said such tactics of the rulers would not make him deviate from the just struggle as during the last one-and-half years their torture had failed to break him.

Mir Hasil Bizenjo said that following the Feb 18 elections the situation in Sindh and Punjab had changed but not in Balochistan where the people had boycotted the polls and those returned were nominees of the MI, which was now helping them in the formation of government.

He said Nawaz Sharif at the time of formation of the APDM in London had pledged that whenever his party formed a government, they would stop the army operation in Balochistan and release all those kidnapped or arrested by the MI and would provide them relief.

Mr Bizenjo said PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had also promised to mitigate their sufferings and set up a tribunal to investigate the tragedies.