DADU: Several hundred people belonging to the media held a six-hour sit-in at the Dadu-Larkana section of the Indus Highway on Wednesday to lodge their strong protest over police failure to arrest a feudal lord and his armed guards who allegedly kidnapped four senior journalists in Johi a fortnight back and subjected them to inhuman treatment.
Braving sizzling weather conditions — with the mercury shooting up to around 50 degrees Celsius — the protesters kept sitting and raising slogans against the culprits and the area police during the course of the sit-in on SSP Chowk in Dadu. The vehicular traffic on the highway also remained suspended while the sit-in was under way.
Leading the protesters, Wali Mohammed Chandio, Wali Mohammed Loond, Ghous Bukhsh Jhatyal, Nizamuddin Shaikh, Tarique Leghari, Fatah Shaikh, Niaz Bhatti and other office-bearers of various forums of journalists condemned the incident and called for immediate arrest of the culprits. They noted that a police inquiry team had already confirmed the incident after which the suspects were booked.
Speaking to the protesters, Mr Chandio recalled the victims’ ordeal telling them that Ahmed Khan Leghari, a feudal lord having his lands in the Kachho area, and his armed guards had kidnapped senior journalists Pir Bukhsh Babar, Ghulam Rasool Thahim, Allam Thahim and Dilbar Mallah 17 days ago to stop them from reporting illegal tree-felling. During captivity, he said the kidnappers subjected them to brutal torture breaking their limbs and causing multiple injuries. They also paraded the victims on the streets of Johi town, which they belonged to, making an example of them, he added.
Mr Chandio said that they set one of the victims free apparently due to his precarious condition and the other three somehow managed to escape from the Autaq (drawing room) of the feudal lord a few days later.
He claimed that certain PPP MNAs and MPAs were using their influence to prevent arrest of the culprits. Dadu SSP Sheeraz Nazeer Abbasi along with a police team held negotiations with the protesters and informed them that he had formed three teams to arrest Leghari and his guards. He said the suspects had actually slipped away from the district. However, he added, the newly formed teams were chasing them into Karachi, Hyderabad and other districts.
He said that Hyderabad DIG Khadim Rind had constituted an inquiry committee comprising Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch and Jamshoro SSP (retired) Captain Tarique Walyat. The committee, he added, found Ahmed Khan Leghari and his armed guards involved in the kidnapping and torture of the journalists.
He said that a hunt for the suspects was started on the committee’s recommendation.
Following the negotiations, the protesters ended their sit-in.
Meanwhile Dadu SSP Sheeraz Nazeer Abbasi suspended the two writer head-constables Sher Khan Leghari and Anwar Leghari, posted at the Qasibo and Nai Gaaj police stations, respectively. They were charged with aiding the suspects in the escape of the closely under watch suspects from Dadu district.
Earlier, groups of journalists from Phulji Station, Mehar, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Johi, Piaro Goth, Radhan, Sita, Sehwan, Bhan Syedabad and Wahi Pandhi, besides Dadu, assembled at Dadu Press Club and marched through the streets of the town raising slogans against the inhuman treatment meted out to the four senior journalists. Speaking to the participants, a journalist, Ghous Bukhsh Jhatyal, announced that the media personnel belonging to Dadu and Jamshoro districts had decided to boycott all programmes organised by the PPP until the arrest of the suspects.