The kidnapping of neurosurgeon Dr Aftab Ahmed Qureshi, which had led to a wave of protests by the medical fraternity, culminated in tragedy on Wednesday.
He was killed, 20 days after his abduction, during a raid staged for his recovery. The encounter, which emerged as a controversial one, also claimed the lives of the suspected kidnapper and a policemen. Two suspects, Ashok Kumar and his mother Kamla, who were living in the basement of the house, were taken into custody.
Qureshi, 56, was a leading neurosurgeon and worked as the chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro. He was kidnapped in Karachi on May 12 while he was leaving his clinic.
The swoop was carried out in a bungalow in Abdullah Valley, Qasimabad, at around 4am. The Anti-Violent Crime Cell of Karachi (AVCC) and the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) led it, but reportedly without first telling the Hyderabad police.
“The police knocked the door of a neighbour and told them that they have to go through their roof to enter the house where the doctor was held captive,” a neighbour, seeking anonymity, told The Express Tribune.
Both the doctor and the kidnapper, identified as Akhtar Siyal from Jhal Magsi but who was living in a relief camp in Karachi, were shot with a high-calibre weapon towards the left temples. AVCC’s ASI Rashid Khan was hit by five bullets from a light-bore weapon, according to Dr Baldev, a medico legal officer. A 9mm pistol and an AK-47 rifle were recovered from the place.
“We appreciate that the police traced him but they seem to have acted without planning and at the cost of innocent people’s lives,” said Dr Agha Taj Muhamamd, a family friend, who was the first to reach the spot. The Pakistan Medical Association’s Dr Hadi Bux Jatoi described the raid as “a big irregularity, which ended in a huge mishap”. He feared that the doctor might have been hit in the cross-fire. The PMA has called for a judicial inquiry.
CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy told the media after the operation that he had followed procedure. “We had informed the DIG Karachi, IG Sindh and DIG Hyderabad about the raid,” he claimed.
Deputy Inspector General of Hyderabad Sanaullah Abbasi said, however, that he would have to ‘check’ if the Karachi police had informed them. “As far as I am concerned, I was told about it in the aftermath at around 5 am,” he said.
The incident took place in the remit of Bhittai Nagar police station but the police there were unaware of it, said SHO Muhammad Ali Shah. “We only knew when a mobile patrol heard the sound of firing and traced the place from where it originated,” he told The Express Tribune.
According to him, the raiding party had come in three vehicles, including a mobile, a white double-cabin pickup and a car. AVCC chief SP Noorul Haq Rind had led the attack, he added.
The CPLC’s Chinoy was taking credit for recovering Ashok Kumar and his mother Kamla who, he considered, were also in captivity. However, the people living in Abdullah Valley refuted this, saying that they had been watching the two moving around. “We have been watching them for 15 to 20 days,” said a neighbour. According to him, the house belongs to a man named, Sarwar Noonari, who had given it on rent.
The two are in the custody of the CIA. SHO Muhammad Ali Shah said the police have confirmed that they were not kidnapped. They belong to Samaro taluka of Umerkot. “We are investigating why they were staying in that place and had no knowledge about the kidnapping.” According to Shah, Kumar and his mother had allowed the suspected kidnapper to stay in the first floor of the house.
Dr Qureshi was abducted at Taj Complex in Saddar and the kidnappers had demanded Rs100 million in ransom. LUMHS suspended classes for three days of mourning. A condolence meeting was presided over by VC Mashoor Alam Shah. Both factions of the PMA have announced three days of mourning.
Dr Qureshi hailed from Noshehro Feroze. His body was taken to his village and buried in Khan Wahan graveyard.
He is survived by a daughter, three sons and his wife. The eldest son is a medical student in a university in Karachi. Qureshi had been suffering from kidney failure.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2012.
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