KARACHI: Until 10 pm on May 9, Ghulam Rasool Burhamai was faxing news from the Johi Press Club and attending calls on his cell phone.
After that, he did not pick up his phone. He did leave the press club for his house, but did not reach home on time. Late in the night, his family and friends, including the Johi Press Club president Shabbir Lashari, started looking for him “We looked for him all night. We kept calling his cell phone which kept ringing but no one picked up,” said Shabbir while talking to The Express Tribune. Around 5:30 am, they found his body near the Tando Rahim Khan link road.
“We informed the police and took Ghulam Rasool’s body to the Taluka Hospital, Johi, for an autopsy. The doctors there said that he had received two severe blows to the head, because of which the right side of his skull was broken,” Shabbir said. After the autopsy, Ghulam Rasool was buried in a quiet, simple ceremony. Ghulam Rasool was a reporter for the daily Sindhu, a Sindhi newspaper, and an active member of the Johi Press Club. “He was an honest and professional journalist.
He only believed in reporting the truth, no matter how many times he was threatened,” said Shabbir. “He was my closest friend.” A day after his death, the police began its investigation. They used sniffer dogs to trace the murder. The dogs led the way to the house of a Ghulam Rasool’s friend, Akbar Lashari. The police arrested him and took him away for questioning. The sniffer dogs also led the police to the house of Aziz Lashari, Akbar’s friend, in the village of Pir Bux Lashari.
After the interrogation, Akbar allegedly confessed that he was an accomplice in the murder. He told the police that he was threatened by Aziz Lashari and his men that if he did not help them, they would kill him and his family instead. According to Akbar, he was made to call Ghulam Rasool at gunpoint. Akbar asked him to meet him for some work near the Tando Rahim Khan link road. When he reached the site, Aziz Lashari and his men killed him. Burhamai paid the price for reporting the truth. Two months ago, he had written a story about Aziz Lashari allegedly getting his 10-year-old son married to a 22-year-old girl.
What Burhamai had apparently discovered was that the girl and boy were forced into marriage. He investigated the case and found out that Aziz’s daughter had been divorced by her husband after he declared her ‘kari’, a few months after their wedding. The husband had discovered a month into the marriage that Aziz’s daughter was allegedly carrying a six-month old foetus. Aziz then had his daughter married in a watta satta, a custom in which families exchange brides. In exchange for his ‘pregnant’ daughter, Aziz Lashari had his son-in-law’s sister (the 22 year old) married to his son, a class four student.
Ghulam Rasool reported all this in an article for the daily Sindhu. It apparently enraged Aziz Lashari who took advantage of the fact that his cousin is the village’s chaudhry, Ghulam Muhammad Lashari. According to Bashir Ahmed Burhamai, a reporter for the daily Kawish, Akbar had been [allegedly] propagating that Ghulam Rasool was contemplating suicide. “A week before his death, Akbar had been coming to the press club and saying that Ghulam Rasool was depressed and wanted to commit suicide. He said he was trying to persuade Ghulam Rasool but he was not listening to him,” he told The Express Tribune.
Meanwhile, Shabbir said that Akbar was with them throughout the night when they were looking for the body, but he never said anything to us. About the progress of the investigation, Shabbir said, “The DIG Hyderabad has taken notice of the incident. On Monday, the case will be transferred to the crime branch.” There was a protest on Friday over the Ghulam Rasool’s murder. Sukkur Press Club’s president Asad Pathan led the protest and demanded that his killers be arrested. The journalists also said that his family should be given financial aid from the government. Ghulam Rasool is survived by his wife and three children.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 15th, 2010.