Friday, March 28, 2008

The War on Terror: Another Grisly Tale, still Shrouded in Mystery

- Suspect in 'Lahore FIA blast' dies in custody: Torture, Poisoning... ?

How many people will have to be killed or debilitated or simply 'vanished' in police custody before the War on Terror can be won? That is a question we as a nation need to ask ourselves. If law enforcers insist upon gouging out 'voluminous confessions of truth' even from the depths of bruised entrails, they do nothing but destroy the legitimacy of law. No matter how many esteemed judgest, lawyers and activists rally behind the slogan of rule of law, and no matter how many movies and dramas are made to eulogize the agents of the law, incidents like the one reported below simply destory the foundations of respect for law.

In the eyes of the law, the deceased was no more than a mere suspect, innocent until proven guilty, duly protected from all torture. His life and well-being were no less than law's sacred trust - a trust that has been tragically betrayed. Largely unmourned and unbemoaned remains the violated deceased. Amidst all these tragedies, we do not even have a Mir Anis who may befittingly record the 'marsia of our times' so that we may sit together and weep over it.

Read on. From today's "The Nation".

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ASIF CHAUDHRYLAHORE - The mystery surrounding the death of the owner of mini-truck in police custody which, according to the police officials was the only ray of hope, has begun to unwind now. A medical board of Mian Munshi Hospital in its post mortem report ruled that the death was caused by suffocation or strangulation, sources disclosed.
The board which declared the death of the truck driver as caused by strangulation included MS Mian Munshi Hospital, Dr Shafqat Ali who is chairman of the board, senior surgeon Dr Muhammad Khalid, District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Muhammad Ishaq and District Medicolegal Officer (DMLO) Dr Muhammad Tanveer.
Afzal was being interrogated by the Sabzazar Police when he was found dead mysteriously in the police lock up. The police tried to hush up the issue, claiming it was a natural death. However, relatives of the deceased claimed that he was tortured in the police custody that led to his death. Meanwhile, Mian Munshi Hospital’s senior doctor told The Nation seeking anonymity that while examining the body of Muhammad Afzal, the experts found some marks on his throat which revealed that the cause of death was ‘asphyxiation’.To a query, he said that no torture marks were found on any other part of the deceased. The marks on the throat of the deceased has confirmed that he was suffocated to death, he said.The source said that after compiling the initial report, the medical board has sent some parts of stomach, lungs and liver of the deceased for chemical examination to establish presence of any poisonous substance. The source claimed that two members of the medical board expressed their apprehension that the deceased might have been administered poisonous substance before suffocating him to death. After thoroughly discussing this point, the participants agreed to sent some body parts of the deceased for further chemical examination.The dead body of mini truck driver Muhammad Afzal, 25, was shifted to the city morgue for autopsy after he was found dead mysteriously under the custody of Sabzazar Police on last Wednesday.
According to the rules, if a person dies in the police custody, the case is referred to the Medical Board of the Mian Munshi Hospital to establish real cause of the death. His death in police custody is also considered a great loss for the investigators.The post mortem report establishing that he was killed through suffocation would crop up further problems for the police leaders. They will have to address questions that why and how he was killed.It is pertinent to mention here that Muhammad Afzal was arrested by the law enforcement agencies after the Excise and Taxation Department established his ownership of the mini truck used in blowing up the FIA headquarters in the city. He was the only accused so far arrested by the police. Muhammad Afzal was interrogated in various police stations to seek his arrest.
The police handed over the dead body to its relatives on Thursday. It is also learnt that dozens of close relatives, friends and locals held demonstration against the death of youth Muhammad Afzal in the police custody. The protestors placed the dead body of the deceased on the road outside Press Club and chanted slogans against the police.The protestors were carrying placards inscribed with appeal to the prime minister, chief minister Punjab and other high ups to hold inquiry against Afzal’s arrest and his death claiming that he was innocent.

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