A heartrending story – innocent Ahmadi tortured by state agencies
This story is a personal account of an innocent man who suffered torture at the hand of state agents. The inflicted torture was the cutting edge of a joint effort by corrupt clerics, inefficient police, mindless administration, sadistic agencies and heartless politicians. It is a tale of suffering of Mr. Rashid Iqbal, an Ahmadi resident of Kunri, District Mirpur Khas, Sindh. There is some background to this incident, which deserves a brief mention at the beginning.
Kunri has been a hotbed of anti-Ahmadiyya agitation for some time. Ahmadis kept the administration and the police informed of the situation. However, the political leadership in Pakistan handles the mulla with great tenderness, regardless of consequences. The district authorities therefore echo that sentiment and approach, and generally support the clergy, or neglect and disregard their criminal activities. This attitude prevails at Kunri.
Here the mullas have a dispute with local Ahmadis over a plot of land and construction of a mosque over it. Ahmadis had approached the authorities for justice; this was not acceptable to the mullas. They conspired to implicate Ahmadis in a fabricated case of blasphemy. In September last year, they accused Rana Khalil Ahmad of writing an objectionable letter to a mulla, and accused Mr. Rashid Iqbal of writing something blasphemous on a road track. The police blithely booked the two under the dreaded blasphemy law PPC 295-C, the anti-terrorism law PPC 295-A and ATA-9. The cases received no serious investigation by any senior police officer as required by the rules. The two men who were bread-winners of their families were arrested and were exposed to awful consequences of these false accusations.
This story is of Mr. Rashid Iqbal who is 34 years old, married and has two children, 5 and 3 years old. He also supports his father who is over 85.
In order to cut it short, we mention below only essential details as narrated by Mr. Iqbal – in his words translated in English.
“On December 4, 2008 I was waiting at the railway station Hyderabad to board a train for Faisalabad. At about 13:30 three men in plain clothes approached me and my nephew who was with me, told me that they belonged to agencies and took us both to a four-wheel drive vehicle outside the station. They pushed us inside the vehicle, blindfolded us and handcuffed us behind the back. They took my mobile phone, three SIM cards, Rs. 950 in cash, a bottle of perfume, and a tin of talcum powder. After about 20 minutes’ drive they arrived at a location unknown to me. There, they noted down my particulars and put me in shackles. … After some time I requested for some relief, told them that I was innocent, and pleaded that they take off the band over my eyes and place the handcuffs in front rather than my back which was very hurtful, they did that. … I offered them to let me free on promise to make myself available in the court, and offered them Rs. 20,000 for this favour. They, however, responded that this money was too little. “Raise it to five lacs (500,000) and we will drop you wherever you like,” they said. However, no money was given or taken. … I noticed a plaque in the room on which MI 4 was written. They asked me about the exact nature of our religious beliefs, to which I replied that there was hardly any difference; “you people are awaiting the advent of a Mahdi, while we believe that the advent has already taken place.” … After the meal, they blindfolded me again. At about 8 p.m. they uncovered my eyes, opened the handcuffs and the shackles. I told them again that I was entirely innocent and knew nothing of the alleged blasphemy. …However they sent for the electric-shock machine and subjected me to shocks. Then they turned me naked and beat me up with a leather whip. They insisted that I admit to acting jointly with two others in committing the blasphemy. I kept on reciting the Kalima (the Islamic creed) till I went unconscious under torture. When I recovered they got themselves a belt used in thresher machines and hit me with it repeatedly. “This ugly looking man (manhus shakal wala) is a member of a fighter organization; he is not going to admit without (this treatment),” one of them said. I told them that I am only an ordinary citizen who makes a living by grinding spices and supplying to the retailers in the town. However, they inflicted upon me still more electric shocks, and slapped me repeatedly. They did the same to my nephew (who was not even an accused in the fabricated FIR). He told them that the issue was nothing except the community plot over which Ayub and his colleagues (the accusers) had got Ahmadis implicated in this false case. Thereafter they blindfolded me again. I was then driven elsewhere and delivered to some other group after two or three hours’ drive.
“I was now finding it very difficult to walk, after the torture. They took me to a room where they opened the handcuffs and took off the band over my eyes. They turned me naked and made me lie down on the floor. One of those tormentors sat astride me and clasped my head in between his knees, while two others took positions on my left and right. They hit me repeatedly on my back and calves of my legs. I went unconscious with pain, and they brought me back to consciousness by a drink and some pills; and then hit me again and again. They said, ‘We are ISI men; we have come all the way from Islamabad; admit your crime.” They were accusing me and some other Ahmadis to having turned to blasphemy in order to precipitate a Hindu-Muslim riot. It was all Greek to me; so I denied that. Then they turned vicious. They introduced chilies in my anus. They opened my two legs and one of them sat on my neck and threatened me with loss of manhood (na mard). I told them again of my innocence, and finally asked them in desperation to shoot me dead. They took me out of the room and fired a shot close to my ear. In fact at that stage I could no longer bear the hurt of the torture of ‘opening the legs’, so I agreed to own up all the false accusations. I was made to sign a number of blank sheets, put my thumb and finger prints on them, admitted to planning a ‘Hindu-Muslim riot’, paying Rs. 5000/- to Sultan Chandio for drawing the ‘sketches’ in the presence of Khalid at his shop, threatened Sultan with death for non-compliance, writing blasphemy on the road track etc – all rubbish, of course. They urged me to implicate Ahmadiyya leadership in providing the Rs. 5000, and mention Nasir Wahla and Majeed Zahid (local Community leaders), but I refused to do that. They wanted me to state that Tariq Mota and Nasir Wahla (Ahmadis) had telephoned me to write that writing, and the taxi on which we went to Umar Kot to post the letter (allegedly written by Rana Khalil) belonged to Zahid son of Habib.
“Then they presented me blindfolded to their officer. He interrogated me further. He asked me, “How much are you paid monthly by your community?” “It is we who subscribe regularly to the community; we do not receive money from our Jamaat”, I told him. He had my eye-band removed, and then made a video. They took some still shots, too. Then I was blindfolded again, was handcuffed in front and driven to a lock-up somewhere. There, I enquired about the time. It was 11 p.m. on 5 December 2008. It was a police station. An A.S.I. provided me with some food and pain-relieving pills. The next day this inspector said to me, “Look here, I have not slapped you even once. All I want from you is to tell the judge that you were arrested at 5 p.m. on 5 December in Kunri. If you tell the judge that you were picked up in Hyderabad and were tortured, I will have you on 15 days’ remand and deliver you back to the ISI”. Then I was taken to an Anti-terrorism court. … (Days later) when I could see the Judge I told him that I was tortured and showed him torture marks on my body. The judge sent me for the medical check up and I requested the doctor to be truthful in his medical report. … Those who took my cash and belongings at the time of my arrest have not delivered those back to me.
“I am now happy to be eventually on bail and with my family once again. I am however afraid whenever I go out in the open. If I die, please do look after my wife and children, and please take care of my elderly father.”
This is how the state wastes its time, resources and energy on worthless tasks assigned by the mulla. It is no surprise that it ends up with problems like those in Swat, Waziristan and Gojra.