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Eight injured as police baton charge protesting women

By: Qurban Ali Khushik

DADU: A rally taken out by scores of women of Sita village in protest over raids and arrests of their loved ones and the closure of every commercial activity in the locality was baton charged by police on Sunday before the participants could reach the Rajo Deero police station.

Eight women — Nasreen Soomro, Rizwana Soomro, Samina, Shabana, Pathani, Rizwana Solangi and Habul — were injured in the police action.

Tension continued in Sita village and its adjoining areas on a third consecutive day following the lynching of a 35-year-old unknown man who was arrested for allegedly desecrating the Quran. A mob had stormed into the Rajo Deero police station, beaten to death the suspect and torched his body.

To establish a hold, control and maintain law and order, the district police intensified patrolling in Sita village, Nandhi Sita, Yaqoob Machhi, Lalo Machhi, Khamiso Machhi and Gulan Machhi villages.

On Sunday, all markets remained closed and residents of Sita village and Nandhi Sita were facing shortages of supplies and potable water.

Also, the police carried out more raids in different areas causing fear among the locals. In the morning, three to four shops were opened and the residents of Sita village reached there to buy food items and vegetables but suddenly a team of police arrived there and beat up the residents forcing them to leave the shops and the shopkeepers to pull down their shutters.

Over 200 women took to the streets and held a rally in Sita village in protest over the police attitude. They marched towards the Rajo Deero police station and when they reached closer to the police station, the police resorted to a baton charge forcing to return to their homes.

Talking to reporters, Nasreen Soomro said that Sita village and surrounding areas had been under virtual curfew for the last three days.

She said they had launched a protest against the detention of their men and had gone to the Rajo Deero police station to know where they were kept but police had beaten them up. She said the police had failed to arrest real culprits who had killed a man and had torched his body. She said the police were detaining innocent persons.

The police also detained a local journalist, Jamil Abbasi, for an hour when he was recording the women protest. The Rajo Deero police snatched his camera and deleted the footage and then released him.

Dadu City ASP Omer Tufail, who had established a camp in Sita village, told Dawn that he was only overseeing the arrest of all those involved in the lynching of the suspect. He denied that the police had baton charged the women rally or they had detained the local journalist.

Dadu SSP Usman Ghani Siddiqui told Dawn that of the 21 suspects nominated in the lynching FIR, 10 had been arrested and efforts were going on to arrest the remaining suspects.

Sindh police chief Fayyaz Leghari also constituted a four-member team comprising DIG-Hyderabad Sanaullah Abbasi, DIG-Crimes Branch Farhat Junejo, SSP-Hyderabad and SSP-Dadu to probe the lynching of the 35-year-old suspect.

Talking to Dawn on phone from Sita village, ex-MPA and district president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional, Syed Mohammad Shah, said the police had detained over 100 innocent persons. He said the police were politically victimising the people of Sita village, Nandhi Sita and its surrounding villages.

He said that if the police were not stopped, ulema and political parties would be asked to launch protests against them. Senior Sindh minister Pir Mazharul Haq of the Pakistan People’s Party told a press conference on Sunday that although the Rajo Deero police had taken proper arrangements at the police station, action was taken against police officials for failing to secure the 35-year-old unknown suspect.

He said the police were trying to know facts about the suspect and a DNA test would be conducted to ascertain his identity. He said he asked the SSP-Dadu to release all innocent persons.

Meanwhile, Dilsha Bhutto, a leader of the secular forum, demanded a judicial inquiry into the lynching of a man within the remit of the Rajo Deero police station.

The held SHO of the Rajo Deero police station, Ghulam Mustaf Tunio, and seven other police officials were released after a session’s court of Dadu granted them bail.