PAKISTAN: Eight women and four children made hostage by police in order to secure the arrest of a dacoit

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that police from four districts of Sindh province have taken in custody eight women along with their children on the suspicion that a young man from the same family is involved in the abduction of a district health officer. The whereabouts of the women and four minors is unknown and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Hyderabad, Sindh province, refused to provide the information about the captured women. Relatives of the victims say that police are demanding the surrender of the suspected dacoit in exchange for the women along with their children. Family members are also claiming that a further four children are also missing after they ran away during the police raid. 

The District Police Officer (DPO) Hyderabad, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Menon, told reporters on November 28, the police do not want to disclose the whereabouts of women and children or details of the charges under which they are being held in police custody. 

According to the details, Dr. Abdul Jalil Bachani, Executive District Officer of the Health Ministry, was abducted by a group of dacoits on November 23, from the jurisdiction of Hotri police station, Hyderabad, while he was proceeding to join his new duties at Tando Allah Yar, Sindh. The dacoits were chased by the police and there was an encounter at Nawab Shah, 200 kilometers from Hyderabad. One of the dacoits was killed and during the encounter police officers saw one young person, Haji Wakil 18, among the dacoits. The police were unable to capture the dacoits and all but the one killed fled the scene. The following day, on November 24, at night, police from four districts, Hyderabad, Jam Shoro, Tando Allah Yar and Nawab Shah, raided the houses at Haji Khair Mohammad Khokhar village, Tando Allah yar, in 17 police heavy vehicles and started arrested women with their children. The police officers informed the victims that owing to the arrests of the girls and young women the dacoit will be forced to surrender to the police. The police also brought six trucks along and confiscated 30 buffalos and goats. The officers also searched the houses and took gold ornaments and crockery. 

It is said that Dr. Abdul Jalil Bachani is the brother of one, Mr. Sattar Bachani, a provincial leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, the ruling party of which he was also a former minister. The provincial government is therefore under pressure from the government to recover the abductee. 

The name of the arrested women and children are; Imam Zadi (63), mother of Mr. Hadi Bux, student of third year of IT of Sindh university, Jam Shoro, Miss Lateefan 21, unmarried, Ms Shamima (28), along with her eight month child, Allah Wasai (24), along with her 14-month-old baby, Husan (28), wife of Wazir Ali along with her girl of 6 years, Huwa (28) along with her 12-months-old baby, Miss Sadori (20), unmarried, Mir Zadi (22), unmarried. The four children who ran away during the raid are Master Abdul Malik (8) and Master Abdul Quddus (6) sons of Mr. Mohammad Hassan, Master Mohammad Aslam (12) and Master Abdul Khalid sons of Mohammad Hussain. It has been reported that they were also taken away by the police. 

The Asian Humans Rights Commission urges upon the government to immediately release the women and children who have been made hostages by the police to obtain the surrender of a suspected dacoit. This act of police shows that police in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh province, do not respect the sanctity of women and children and respect the right to protection and freedom of the ordinary citizens. Pakistan has signed the International Covenant on political and civil rights, according to which arbitrary arrest is a violation of fundamental rights. The ignorance of the provincial government of Sindh of the actions of the police will, in the near future, strengthen the illegal and ultra-constitutional powers of the police. 

There cannot possibly be any justification for taking women and minors hostage to ensure the surrender of a suspected criminal. On the contrary this will merely encourage further kidnappings by criminal elements who will follow the lead taken by the police who are supposed to be upholding the rule of law.

The government should immediately arrest the all police officers who are involved in this act whether they are powerful officers or not and try them before a court of law as ordinary criminals. 

The AHRC urges the government to secure the release of the women and children immediately.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-303-2008
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Police violence,