KARACHI, Jan 5: A brother of rape victim Kainat Soomro was picked up by the Dadu police on Jan 2 on charges of rioting, the family of 20-year-old Sabir Soomro has said.
Kainat was gang-raped on Jan 10, 2007. Her father Ghulam Nabi Soomro, ex-president of the transporters’ union, managed to lodge a case against the accused Jatoi tribesmen after great difficulty. Because of the number of threats they received, the family was compelled to leave their hometown of Mehar in District Dadu and moved to Karachi almost a year ago, where they now live in Lyari.
According to the Soomro family, Sabir Soomro went back to Mehar six months ago in order to protect the family home from being occupied by encroachers. “He was married a year ago to one of his maternal cousins and is the second eldest child,” said his mother Zakia Soomro.
The family, while living in Karachi, continued to receive threatening calls asking them to settle the issue out of court. “Now that the police have the power to arrest anyone they wish and label them rioters, they found an opportunity to arrest my son,” claimed Mr Soomro’s father.
“Our son is a simple person. He has just completed his education and stays at home most of the time while his wife is a lady health visitor,” his mother added. Moreover, Ghulam Nabi Soomro insisted that none of his family members have ever shown an inclination towards any political party. “Our party is our empty stomachs and we work only to have two square meals a day,” he said.
The family claims that Sabir was not arrested at his residence but was called out to a nearby restaurant to meet a few possible buyers of a pushcart he wanted to sell.
“My son was called on his cell phone to meet people who were interested in buying the pushcart. He left his cell phone and did not return,” his father said. He was then taken to the Mehar police station where, the family alleges, “he was severely beaten up by the cops and asked to call us at 12pm on the day (Jan 2) to warn us to withdraw the case or we would face dire consequences.”
The father complained that he had gone to all the influential people whom he could think of but nothing happened. No NGO or human rights organisation was of any help either. Ghulam Nabi Soomro said that “in the meanwhile, the family continues to receive calls from waderas to withdraw Kainat’s case if we want to see our son alive. They are aware of the fact that we have no money to bail him out.”
He added that his financial conditions do not permit him to even step out of the city in order to pursue the issue.
The former home minister had promised Kainat Soomro that protection would be provided to her and her family if she chose to stay in her hometown. “If they can arrest my son for no reason, they could have done much worse to Kainat,” said the mother.
There was a court hearing for Kainat’s case scheduled on Jan 2, 2008; therefore the family believes Sabir Soomro’s arrest was pre-planned. “I am not going to be bogged down by all of this. I have come so far to seek justice and what I get in return is one of my sons has ended up in police captivity,” said the father. “We appeal to the lawmakers and law-enforcement agencies to at least not create further hardships for us if they can’t help us,” he added.
When TPO Mehar Humair Bhangwar was contacted, he told Dawn that Sabir Soomro had been nominated by a complainant in an FIR for allegedly torching his showroom during the recent riots.