KARACHI: The young man, who died in the custody of Pakistan Rangers on Friday, was a suspect in the attack on the paramilitary forces’ check post earlier this week.
Bilal alias Mullah, and his three companions, were arrested on July 17 by the Rangers and the police in a joint operation in Sikander Goth, two days after the attack on the Rangers check post on Abul Hasan Isphahani Road at Sohrab Goth that left two paramilitary soldiers wounded.
According to the police records, the Rangers handed over Bilal to the police on Thursday. “Since the Rangers handed him over to us in an injured condition, we took him straight to Jinnah hospital for medical check-up,” DSP Khalid Khan told The Express Tribune, adding that the doctors told them that Bilal was tortured 36 hours before they started treatment. “We have proof that we did not torture him as Thursday’s medical report suggests he was tortured 36 hours before he was taken to the hospital.”
After treatment, the police took Bilal back to the police station, where his mother visited him. “She gave him juice and he seemed to be doing well,” he said. “When his mother returned, his condition became unstable.” Since the doctors had told them to bring him in again if he vomited, said DSP Khan, the police tried to rush him to Jinnah hospital but he died on the way.
According to the medical report, the deceased was severely tortured. “He was given electric shocks and hit by some sharp material and an iron rod,” the report said.
Bilal’s death has created a rift between the Rangers and the police as both try to blame the other. The police officials insisted that the paramilitary soldiers arrested Bilal for attacking and injuring their men and that the police were only on backup support during the operation and the arrest.
“An inquiry has been initiated to probe his death, especially on the basis of the medical report,” said Investigations SSP Abbas Rizvi. “I cannot comment until the investigations are completed but I am sure we [police] did not even touch him.”
On the other hand, the Rangers contradicted the statement of the police and denied the suspect was tortured in their custody. According to the Rangers spokesperson, Bilal died in police custody. He was arrested along with three other criminals during a joint Rangers and police search and cordon operation in Sikander Goth, said the official, adding that the operation was launched after an attack on a Rangers motorcycle squad.
“Bilal and his associates were handed over to the police on July 17,” claimed the spokesperson. “He was handed over with no torture signs and in perfect health.”
Meanwhile, Bilal’s family, relatives, neighbours and friends protested at the hospital following his death. They blocked the road for traffic and pelted stones on vehicles passing by.
“They [Rangers and police] picked up my brother from our house and tortured him severely,” claimed Bilal’s brother. “Both the Rangers and the police are responsible for my brother’s death.”
According to him, Bilal was a labourer by profession and was not involved in any criminal activity. “Why would my brother stay at the house if he was involved in the Rangers’ attack,” he asked. “They took away our brother alive and returned him dead. Nobody is even ready to own his death.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.
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