August 28, marks the second anniversary of the murder of Irshad Mastoi an assignment editor of ARY News television channel, bureau chief of Online news agency and secretary-general of the Baluchistan Union of Journalists along with his two colleagues, According to Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), these murders remain shrouded in mystery despite passage of two years.
On 28 August, 2014, 7:45pm Irshad Mastoi, Abdul Rasool Khajjak, trainee reporter and Muhammad Younas, accountant were working in the office when two men armed with 9mm pistol barged in the office and shot them several times in Quetta, the capital city of Baluchistan province.
Khajjak and Younas died at the spot while Irshad was injured and died on way to Civil Hospital in Quetta. The initial examination showed that the media workers suffered bullet wounds in chest and head.
Mastoi’s colleagues believe he was murdered because of his article on the eve of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti’s 8th death anniversary. However, some of his close friends suspected the involvement of a politico-sectarian party in his killing for not publicizing the party’s press releases and statements.
On September 29, 2014 Home Minister of Baluchistan Sarfaraz Bugti announced the formation of a tribunal of enquiry consisting of Justice Muhammad Hashim Kakar Baluchistan of High Court (BHC). The report was sent to Baluchistan Chief Minister and Chief Secretary but the commission report has not made public.
On September 2, 2015, Provincial Home Minister of Baluchistan Sarfaraz Bugti announced the arrest of two suspects Shafqat Ali Rodani alias Naveed and Ibrahim Nachari alias Shah Jee, and presented them before the media. The Minister said that the accused were affiliated with separatist militant group, Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA).
According to the government the accused were not only responsible for murdering Mastoi and his colleagues but were also involved in thirty bomb explosions and a series of targeted killings in Quetta and other parts of Baluchistan.
The videotape of the confession of the accused was also played in the news conference. Video Link of the confession: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G9G3C5EJyE.
However local journalists in Baluchistan pointed out a number of serious contradictions in the confessions of the accused that cast serious doubt on the authenticity of their statements.
On October 13, 2015, Investigation team of Quetta police raided a house of militants Rodani and Nachar in Mustang district of Baluchistan province, and both the accused were killed in the encounter.
However, Mastoi’s family believe they were not the actual killers. According to Mastoi’s cousin Sarang Mastoi the government ended the case by killing militants in an encounter who were not involved in the murder.
Shahzada Zulfiqar, President, Quetta Press Club has called on the government to remove the confusion caused by the contradictory confessional statements, and later killing of the accused, by ordering a reinvestigation of the case. He also called on the government to create a safe environment for the family members and colleagues of Mastoi and other murdered journalists in Baluchistan to be able to record their statements and give evidence without fear.