MULTAN, Aug 28: There is no let-up in the tension on Okara military farms, as police and rangers continue to besiege villages where most of tenants and their leaders live.
Due to the continuous blockade of the Chaks 4/4L and 13/4L, life has become paralyzed, as even the injured of the Aug 24 firing could not be taken to the hospitals so far. Those, who were taken to the hospital on Saturday last, had been arrested by the law-enforcement agencies for “murdering” Suleman Masih, 20.
Suleman’s body was, meanwhile, buried on Tuesday. Tenants had earlier refused to do so without meeting legal formalities, including undertaking an autopsy.
However, on the pressure of the rangers, Christian clergymen and tenants’ leaders, the relatives agreed to perform last rites of Suleman without getting the post-mortem performed.
According to the eyewitnesses, his body had started stinking and decomposing. They said authorities handed over the body in a wooden coffin and were stressing that the box should not be opened. But the family opened it and found the body “tortured black and blue besides having bullet injuries.”
The rangers, on the other hand, are claiming that Suleman was killed by the tenants’ leaders in order to exploit ‘death of a Christian’ at the international forums.
Bishop Joseph Coots of Faisalabad and nine other people have also written a letter to President Musharraf to inform him about the circumstances under which they were forced to bury the body.
Tenants told Dawn that the police had registered a murder case against several residents of the military farms.
They said three of the accused, including Baba Jattu, had died long before.
The injured, who were later arrested, are: Basheer Ahmed (9/4L), Mohammad Rafique (3/4L), Mohammad Jamil (4/4L), Mohammad Akram (4/4L), Ghulam Rasool (18/4L) and Imtiaz Ahmed (5/4L). They are said to be chained at hospital beds.
While, Mohammad Aslam of Chak 4/4L, Tahir Husain of 3/4L, Shahzad Masih 3/4L, Mohammad Salim 12/4L, Mohammad Javed 4/4L, and Mohammad Aslam 2/4L have been missing since Aug 24, the day ranger and police opened fire on them.
Though, Okara Saddar DSP, Fazal Mehmood, had told the tenants that the missing were in fact in the custody of Chuchak police, none of their family had so far been allowed to meet them.
This had been creating doubts about their lives and security, president of Anjuman Mazareen, Chaudhry Abdul Jabbar, said.
Similarly, Anjuman chairman Anwar Dogar could not be located since the operation.
The authorities expressed ignorance about his whereabouts, however, his wife said her husband was taken into custody by police and rangers on Saturday last.
Meanwhile, vice president of Anjuman Mazareen Punjab, Dr Christopher John, speaking at a press conference at Khanewal on Wednesday, claimed that some elements in the government wanted to turn peaceful movement of tenants into a violent struggle through oppression.
He demanded an impartial inquiry of the Okara military farm tragedy, release of all the detained tenants and their leaders, restoration of negotiations between government and the tenants and registration of the case against the real murderers of Suleman Masih.
He stressed that the government should involve the real stakeholders like revenue board in dialogue with the tenants instead of negotiating at gunpoint through rangers and police.