KARACHI: Malook Shah’s* wife and five children had no idea where he disappeared to for 15 days or that the reason that their breadwinner was not coming home was that he had been taken to an undisclosed location for ‘investigation’.
A taxi driver by profession, Shah was apprehended during a search operation conducted by Rangers at Kunwari Colony. He was reportedly released after 15 days of interrogation, but due to severe torture, could not go to work for another two weeks.
The Rangers spokesperson, however, denied that Rangers were violating human rights and the Constitution of Pakistan. “We do not violate the respect and privacy of innocent people,” he said. “We apprehended only criminals and made sure to enter houses with female searchers.”
In his opinion, the proof of the operations’ success was evident from the fact that the crime rate has gone down and criminals were leaving the city.
However, the residents disagree. “During the search operation, Rangers entered my home without a search warrant and arrested me and my brother. Our licensed weapons were seized and we were taken to a secretive location for 15 days,” Shah told The Express Tribune. “We were not even allowed to inform our family members or the police station.”
Recalling his time in detention, Shah said that they were tortured badly but later released without any charges. “Our licensed weapons, however, are still in their custody.”
The operations by Rangers have been conducted in Kunwari Colony, Surjani Town, Sohrab Goth, Sher Pao Colony, Pukhtoonabad, Manghopir, Orangi Town, Lyari, Jehaanbad, Pak Colony, Orangi Town and other areas.
Asif*, a resident of Surjani Town where the Crime Investigation Department conducted a raid during which the prime suspect of Abbas Town blasts was also killed, found it hard to understand how Rangers could ‘clear’ Surjani town but still not find the hideout of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. “How is it possible that TTP’s lair operates even after the ‘successful’ operation by Rangers. I think it’s just a farce – they arrest innocent people, parade them in front of the media and then release them.”
Violation of human rights
A resident of Falak Naz Plaza told The Express Tribune Rangers conducted search operations near wireless gates with 30 vehicles, along with female officials and sniffer dogs. “They entered the area, including Falak Naz Tower, Madam Apartment and Falak Naz View, and broke all barriers with hammers. They arrested 20 to 25 people who were not criminals,” he said. Later, he said, they were released after three days. “They were all arrested without a charge sheet – it was a complete violation of human rights.”
Noted lawyer, Javaid Ahmed Chhatari, when contacted was also of the opinion that the Rangers’ operation was a violation of the Constitution as well as human rights.
“They treat citizens like the people living in occupied Kashmir where the Border Security Force has cordoned off the area and violated the respect and privacy of people.”
He said it was also a sign of failure on part of the intelligence agencies as they could not gather information of the miscreants in the city and thus Rangers are conducting operations and apprehending innocent people. Those who are found guilty are handed over to the police who release them after taking bribes, he alleged. “Basically they are fooling the people and government and filling their own pockets while doing so.”
*Names changed to protect privacy of individuals
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2013.