HYDERABAD: Family members of self-exiled nationalist leader Shafi Muhammad Burfat, who heads the banned Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), have allegedly been whisked away yet another time. His sister, Mumtaz Burfat, said, during a press conference at the Hyderabad Press Club on Saturday, that three persons, including her husband, were taken away.
"There were around 40 to 50 men. They knocked on our door late at night. When my husband opened it, they forced themselves in and told him to stay silent. They introduced themselves as personnel of [law enforcement] agencies," she said.
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Mumtaz blamed the alleged personnel for ransacking the house and beating her husband, Ghulam Rasool Burfat, 47, who was a journalist working as a sub-editor at the Daily Sindh Express. He was blindfolded and pushed into a car, she added.
The personnel later entered the neighbouring house of Qasim Burfat, Shafi's father-in-law, and took away his son Asif Burfat, along with mobile phones and laptops, she alleged.
Shafi's younger brother, Zaheer Hussain Burfat, who is an official of the National Bank of Pakistan, was also taken away.
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"As they left, they warned me that if Shafi called a strike on August 14 or attempted any other conspiracy on the day when the nation would be celebrating its independence, the family would receive the bodies of these three persons," she claimed.
In a similar raid at the residences of Shafi's relatives in February, nine persons were whisked away. Ghulam Rasool, Zaheer and Asif were among them. However, they were released after four to five days.
Mumtaz appealed to the Supreme Court and Sindh High Court to take notice of the incident and order the authorities concerned to ensure the safe recovery of her missing family members.
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In his press statement, Shafi alleged that a warning has been made to cancel the upcoming conference about enslaved nations being organised by JSMM in Frankfurt, Germany. He said not only his family but many party workers from Karachi and Dadu have been whisked away, adding that 40 workers were already missing before Friday's raids.
JSMM and the Jeay Sindh Liberation Army, which security officials believe is an armed wing of the party, are accused of carrying out a low-scale explosion on the railway tracks in Sindh. In recent years, the group has been accused of carrying out terrorist attacks during national holidays.
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Human rights worker Punhal Sario, who was detained from Hyderabad on Thursday night, still remains missing while civil society and human rights workers demand his release in unison.
On Saturday afternoon, at around 3:50pm, Sario's family received a call from his mobile number. Sario's daughter,Marvi, told The Express Tribune that a man with a Pashto accent, speaking in broken Urdu, began ridiculing the family. "I felt that the phone was taken closer to my baba [father]. I heard him cough. I can say it was his voice because he coughed the same way at home," she said.
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Marvi said the family was not allowed to talk to Sario and before disconnecting the call, the person on the other end asked the family to prepare the ransom amount. "We called back on baba's number. The call was attended, we heard sound of a moving vehicle and the phone was switched off after that," said Marvi.
Hyderabad SSP Amjad Shaikh told The Express Tribune that they have traced the tower near the location from which the call came. But, he added, the police have been unable to find the exact place where Sario is being kept.
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He said, "As far as my information is concerned, this is not a kidnapping case for ransom but is some other issue."
Advocate Ali Palh, who represents Sindh Human Rights Defenders and has been assisting the family in pursuing the case with the authorities, told The Express Tribune that he also spoke to the man on Sario's number.
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