Raid at minister’s home after bodies found in Barkhan well

QUETTA: After hundreds of Marri tribesmen staged a sit-in inside the Red Zone of the provincial capital, alongside three bodies recovered from a well in the Barkhan area of Balochistan, a police team raided the residence of Provincial Minister for Communication and Works Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, late on Tuesday night.

The situation, which also led to heated debate on the floor of the provincial assembly, stemmed from the discovery of three bodies late on Monday night – said to be the wife and two sons of one Khan Muhammad Marri.

“These are the bodies of my wife and two sons who were kept in a private jail in Haji Kot for the last four years,” he said, identifying them as his 40-year-old wife Granaz, and sons Muhammad Anwar (22) and Abdul Qadir (15).

Marri, who was once employed as a security guard with a provincial minister, alleged that his wife and sons were being held in the private jail of Sardar Khetran, adding that five more of his children, including his 13-year-old daughter, were still languishing there.

However, Sardar Khetran denied the allegation and termed it a conspiracy. It was an attempt to defame and remove him as the tribal head of the Khetran tribe, the minister said.

He said that the bodies were recovered one and a half kilometres away from his native village while he was not in Barkhan and had been in Quetta for more than a week.

“I have not kept anyone in pri­son and such allegations are al­ways levelled whenever elections are near,” Sardar Khetran said, accusing one of his own sons, Inam Shah, of opposing him.

QUETTA: Members of the Marri tribe and the heirs of three people who were killed after allegedly being locked up in a private prison in Barkhan, hold a protest along with the bodies, outside the deputy commissioner’s office on Tuesday.—PPI

However, Inam Shah denied his father’s allegations and confirmed that the three people whose bodies were recovered from the well had been kept in his father’s “private jail”.

Late on Tuesday night, a large contingent of police and security personnel headed by SSP Muhammad Asif cordoned off Sardar Khetran’s bungalow and guest house in the Patel Bagh area and conducted a search along with women police officials.

Every room, basement and guest house was searched. However, no arrest was reported until going to press. Sardar Khetran was not present during the search operation, either.

Discovery and protest

Locals had informed the authorities about the presence of the three bodies in the well, after which levies personnel and other security officials rushed to the site and recovered the bodies.

Police said that unknown people had thrown the bodies in a deep well after killing the mother and her two sons. The bodies had bullet wounds in their skulls and bore marks of torture, which pointed to their cause of death, hospital officials in Kohlu said after examining the bodies.

Their hands and feet were tied with ropes, while the woman’s face was crushed, they said.

Following the grisly discovery, the heirs of the deceased took the bodies to Kohlu, where their funeral prayers were offered by hundreds of people. Later, Marri tribesmen brought the coffins to Quetta amid a large procession.

Upon reaching the Red Zone in Quetta, the protesters announced they would not call off their demonstration or bury the bodies until Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif paid them a visit.

Echoes in assembly

Meanwhile, the issue echoed in the Balochistan Assembly, where both treasury and opposition members strongly condemned the killing of the woman and her two sons in such a cruel manner.

Mir Arif Jan Muhammad Hasni, speaking on a point of order, termed it an inhumane act that went against religion and tribal customs.

Education Minister Mir Nasibullah Marri staged a walkout from the house and demanded the arrest of the people involved in this brutal act.

Mir Nasibullah Marri said that nobody had taken notice and helped the woman, who was seen requesting the government and society to save their life through a video where she is holding the Holy Quran in her hand.

“We all are responsible for this tragedy as we remained silent over her request,” he said.

He said that in Baloch society, wars stopped when women came between the warrior groups. He said that the issue should not be give a tribal colour and all steps should be taken to arrest the people involved.

He also demanded immediate steps for the recovery of the five remaining children of Khan Muhammad Marri, who are still in the private jail and requested the Chief Justice of Balochistan to take notice of the incident.

The home minister informed the house that a five-member JIT has been constituted headed by DIG Loralai, which would submit its report within 30 days.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2023

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