A boy went missing last year from the house he worked at in I-10. Ten months on, the police still have no clues as to his whereabouts. Meanwhile, two lives connected to his disappearance, one way or the other, have ended. One of them was Saadat, a carpenter, the only suspect allegedly having knowledge of the boy’s disappearance. He died in police custody.
His relatives accused the Sabzi Mandi police of torturing him to death. They accused then-Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Dr Khalil Ahmed Bhutta of personally subjecting the carpenter to torture. However, the subsequent inquiry failed to prove that torture was the cause of Saadat’s death.
“His blood pressure dropped dangerously during interrogations and he was sent to hospital, but he could not survive,” a police officer who was privy to the development told The Express Tribune.
The SDPO was suspended, booked for murder and has since been trying to prove his innocence before Saadat’s family. Recently, giving in to his pleas for mercy, the dead carpenter’s family finally agreed on taking ‘qisas’, which the accused police officer agreed to pay. He was about to get his job back when his car met accident earlier this month.
Dr Bhutta and his one-month-old daughter died, while his wife and the elder daughter were critically injured. For eight months, Bhutta has been under intense mental stress. With him, all information related to the kidnapped boy and the true circumstances under which the carpenter died were lost.
Bhutta’s car collided with a motorbike near Layyah district in Southern Punjab while he was returning to Islamabad with his family from his hometown. For the last nine months, Bhutta has been trying hard to prove his innocence and settle the concerns of the poor carpenter’s family. None of that could happen.
After the two deaths, only recovery of the boy could solve the mystery of who was innocent and who was guilty. Police officials familiar with case details said that although Saadat was a genuine suspect and had rightly been interrogated by Bhutta, his life was lost due to the negligence of the police officer in charge of the kidnapping case, Assistant Sub Inspector Gul Khan.
When Saadat had shown signs of low blood pressure, Khan was asked to take him to the hospital immediately. Instead of taking him to a public hospital, the ASI took Saadat to the nearest private hospital, dropped the carpenter off and went home.
When he returned four hours later, the doctor in charge informed him that Saadat’s condition had deteriorated and he had been shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), where he should have been taken in the first place.
The carpenter was dead by the time he was shifted to Pims.
Saadat’s family and even some police officers had maintained that he was innocent and was not involved in the kidnapping of the boy. However, the police’s initial investigations had found that Saadat was lying and was concealing information from police.
All information that he provided the police about the boy proved wrong and his alibi could not be corroborated by any other witness. Saadat had also threatened the boy’s father by saying his son would never return if he would contact the police.
The kidnapped boy was the only son left with his family. Two older brothers had already died — one in road accident, the other from cancer. His family was desperate to see him again. Bhutta was under pressure to find the boy and Saadat was his only suspect.
After Bhutta, no police officer could make any breakthrough in recovery of the boy. After the police officer’s death, it is vital that the boy be recovered, and truth revealed.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2013.
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