Balochistan: Minister accused of murders, keeping private jails

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Three dead bodies were recovered from Balochistan’s Barkhan district on Monday — a tribesman confirmed the victims were his family members and claimed that Provincial Minister is behind the killings.

According to Levies sources, the dead bodies were recovered from a well in Haji Kot area of Barkhan. The dead include two men and a woman. When the identification of the dead bodies was ascertained, Khan Muhammad Marri, a local tribesman confirmed the deceased were his wife and two sons. Marri also accused the Balochistan Minister for Communication and Works (C&W), Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran of killing his family members.

Khan Mohammad Marri while talking to the media said the dead bodies are of his wife Giran Naz, eldest son Mohammad Nawaz and another son Abdul Qadir, who were imprisoned along with other five members of his family in the private jail of Sardar Khetran since 2019, due to not testifying in a case conflict between Abdul Rehman Khetran and his son, Sardar Inam Khetran.

Khan Muhammad further revealed that the provincial minister is not only subjecting people to forced labor but also sexual and physical violence in his private jail. He said that a video of his wife had surfaced on a website after which his family’s bodies were found in a well.

The video was verified by various sources that the woman in the video was Khan Muhammad’s wife. In the video, she can be seen holding the Quran and saying, “I swear by God — this Quran is supreme — Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran has me captive in jail. He is sexually assaulting my daughter every day and has also imprisoned my sons. Someone get us freed.”

People of the Marri tribe started a protest against the incident at the main square in Kohlu, on Monday. While a declaration of protest was also issued in Quetta.

Meanwhile, talking to Geo News, Khetran termed the murders “a conspiracy against him”, stating that he was in Quetta for the past 10 days and attending the assembly sessions. “Last night, around two kilometers away from home, three bodies were thrown in a well, and I don’t know who threw them,” Khetran said.

“These allegations are being leveled against me since 2013 when the elections took place. In 2014 I was removed from power and till 2018 I stayed in jail. If there was any private jail, the authorities would have found out back then,” he added.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the dead bodies of the three victims were brought to Quetta by their relatives and a large number of Marri tribesmen also joined them. The dead bodies were brought to Quetta after the funeral prayers of the deceased were performed at the Eid Gah Ground in Kohlu.

Thousands of people have started a sit-in protest in front of the Chief Minister’s house in Quetta. Protestors have announced to continue the sit-in until the dismissal and arrest of the provincial minister. The protestors include members of political and social organizations and people from different walks of life.

On the other hand, extreme anger is being expressed on social media by activists, who are demanding the arrest of the provincial minister immediately.

Many Baloch nationalists claim that Khetran is backed by the mighty Army of Pakistan and its intelligence agencies, and given this, the man is enjoying impunity after committing such crimes against innocent civilians.

Sher Alam Marri, the son of late Baloch leader Babu Sher Muhammad Marri, strongly condemned the killings of Khan Muhammad Marri’s sons and wife. He criticized the media for not covering such serious news in Balochistan, he said the state media is anyway created only to show the situation of Punjab.

Marri further said that despite the confirmation of the abduction and brutal murder of the family of Khan Muhammad Marri by the government officials of the area, the arrest of the culprits could not be carried out, which clearly shows that the state institutions have allowed such criminals to shed blood and humiliate the Baloch nation so that an atmosphere of fear can be maintained in the region.

The chairman of the Haq Do movement, Hussain Wadela also condemned the heartbreaking incident saying that the state of Pakistan and its institutions are supporting the rotten and corrupt Sardari system. “In order to provide oxygen to the tribal and semi-feudal system in Balochistan, the state is patronizing chiefs like Sardar Khetran, who have been given permission to kill people by holding the post of provincial ministers,” Wadela said.

Regarding the incident, a debate broke out in the provincial assembly on Tuesday. Provincial Minister Naseebullah Marri boycotted the assembly proceedings, while Sana Baloch demanded that the people involved in the incident be brought to justice. 

Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo ordered the formation of a Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) to probe into the incident.

In January 2014, the police and ATF had conducted a raid at Khetran’s private jail, Dawn reported. It further said that the police had said seven people, including two women and three children, were recovered from the private jail. Six proclaimed absconders were also picked up by ATF and police. Police recovered arms and ammunition from their possession.

Khetran had at the time surrendered to police in the aftermath of the registration of the kidnapping case against him at Barkhan Police Station. Police had registered cases against Khetran, his son, and eight others for kidnapping three policemen and snatching weapons from them.

Before that in November 2006, the Supreme Court had ordered the Balochistan police to arrest and produce Khetran within a week for his alleged involvement in the forced marriages of two minor girls and abduction of their five relatives, besides running a private jail in his area.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising then-chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi, and Justice Saiyed Saeed Ashhad, while hearing an application of Issa Khan, had also directed the provincial police to recover the five kidnapped relatives of the minor girls from his private jail.

The bench was told that Khetran had ordered the forced marriage of two minors, which the relatives of the minors declined to accept. Consequently, he had abducted five male members of the family and allegedly subjected them to torture in his private jail.

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