In the village of Madi Jalbani in Sirkand, 55-year-old Janat Khatoon cannot stop crying. Her two sons were killed in an operation by security agencies. Both of them were to get married this month.
“It was like my son (groom) was taken off the palanquin and killed. I have only one vision in my eyes. My young sons are bathed in blood. I want justice; I will not forgive the killers until my last breath.”
On September 28, security agencies operated in the Kachay area, located 12 kilometres away from the tehsil headquarters in district Bannu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). During the operation, four farmers from the Jalbani family were killed, and five others were injured.
Among the deceased were Sajawal, aged 32, Mehar, aged 28, and two young brothers, Nizamuddin, aged 30, and Imam Bakhsh, aged 27. In this firing incident, 60-year-old Alahdad Jalbani, his son Imamuddin, aged 32, and relatives Sarang, Ali Nawaz, and Liaqat Jalbani were injured.
Jannat Bibi had three sons. In this operation, her sons, Imam Bakhsh and Nizamuddin, lost their lives, and the third one, Imamuddin, was severely injured with a gunshot wound to his back. He remained under treatment at the trauma centre in Karachi for ten days and is now in a critical condition, unable to walk or move independently.
She says that before this incident, her sons had returned home after picking cotton from the fields. “Our innocent family has been devastated. There is no longer a breadwinner left in the house.”
After the operation in Mari Jalbani, when the officials left, the relatives placed the bodies of the four deceased on the national highway and staged a protest, which continued for almost 24 hours near Sukkur. The protest was led by Syed Zain Shah (grandson of GM Syed), the President of the Sindh United Party.
After negotiations with Deputy Commissioner Zahid Hussain, the protest was called off. Syed Zain Shah explains that the extent of cruelty is such that the Mari Jalbani Police Station had not issued a letter (docket) for the deceased’s post-mortem. None of the killings and injured victims had any case or complaint filed against anyone before this incident.
During this time, an announcement was issued by the SSP Office in Benazirabad, stating that an operation was conducted in Mari Jalbani to arrest a suspect. During this operation, the villagers attacked the police and Rangers, injuring three Rangers personnel. In the retaliatory firing, three people were killed, and five were injured.
A statement from the Rangers’ spokesperson indicated that the Sindh Rangers and the police conducted an operation based on information about the presence of ‘high-value criminals’ associated with a clandestine organisation. Malevolent elements attacked the law enforcement personnel upon sight, resulting in four young men getting injured. In a retaliatory operation, three attackers were killed.
However, after the casualties during the operation, two First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered at the Mari Jalbani police station. The first FIR was lodged on September 28 under the complaint of the government, specifically SHO Maqsood Reza Mangnihar. This complaint was disclosed in the Anti-Terrorism Court three days later when the police submitted their report.
The second FIR was registered on September 29 after the protest of Sajawal’s brother Rahab Jalbani, the heirs of the victims, a copy of which was provided to Rahab Jalbani from Mari Jalbani police station at the same time. This case is in the court of Tehsil Sakrand.
According to the FIR, the operation was led by DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) Zia and Inspector Asif Ali, along with a team of Rangers, involving three Ranger vehicles and personnel.
The FIR filed by the government includes the registration numbers of all police vehicles and several officers’ names.
According to the police, when the officials started searching the house of Liaquat, son of Shahmeer, Rajab, son of Mohammad Khan Jalbani and Rival alias Dholi, son of Juma Khan Jalbani, armed with Kalashnikovs, sarees and sticks, obstructed the duty and interfered unduly in official work.
During this situation, the police resorted to baton charges. People pulled the rangers’ officers out of their vehicles, and when an attempt was made to release them, the culprits opened fire on the people. As a result of the firing, those involved alongside the culprits were also killed and injured.
The government’s FIR includes several instances of terrorism. The second FIR was registered based on the pleas of the victim’s relatives. According to the claimant, on September 28, at around 3 PM, they were sitting at the home of Ali Nawaz Jalbani, along with their brother Sajawal Dighar.
At that time, a white and a black Vigo car, three security agency cars, and five police mobile vans were standing at the door of the house. These vehicles contained 40 to 45 uniformed and plainclothes officers who entered the house.
“The people in government uniforms told us that we were terrorists and started firing at us. My brother Sajawal Jalbani and our relative Nazam-ud-Din were killed at the scene. Imambakhsh, Mehyar, Jalbani, Imamududin, Elhdad, Sarang, Ali Nawaz, and Liaqat Jalbani were severely injured.”
In the same FIR, the complainant states that the village’s residents gathered together due to the intense firing. They were taking the deceased and injured to the Sakrand Hospital with the help of the people when, on the way, Imambakhsh and Mehyar also succumbed to their injuries.
The Additional Chief Secretary of Sindh took note of the incident, and a three-member investigative committee was formed under the leadership of Commissioner Hyderabad, Khalid Hyder Shah, with the participation of DIG Benazirabad, Parvez Chandio, and DIG Special Branch, Asif Aijaz Sheikh.
According to Captain (retired) Hyder Raza, the SSP Benazirabad states that no action was taken on both FIRs due to the formation of the high-level investigative committee, and no arrests were made.
Additionally, the record of Mari Jalbani was sealed during this time.
However, the relatives of the deceased disputed the government’s FIR and expressed their lack of confidence in the investigative committee established by the Chief Minister. They also filed a petition in the Sindh High Court on October 4, 2023. The petition requested an investigation into the Mari Jalbani incident by a former or current serving judge of the High Court.
The case was heard in the Sindh High Court in Karachi on October 12. The applicants in the case were represented by the former Vice Chairman of the Sindh Bar Council, Zulfiqar Jalbani, Advocate Tahmasp Rashid Rizvi, and Aaqib Rajpar.
According to Advocate Zulfiqar Jalbani, during the hearing, a response was submitted by the Inspector General of Sindh, stating that investigations are ongoing for both FIRs in this case. The committee formed by the Chief Minister is also conducting an inquiry, and both reports will be presented in the High Court.
In the High Court, the prosecutor for the Sindh Rangers appeared on behalf of the federal government. He stated that he has not received copies of the FIRs and will provide his response after reading the FIRs.
Zulfiqar Jalbani alleges that on the first day, the police registered a false FIR with a premeditated plan, and it was kept hidden for three days. It was not even presented in the relevant courts. Furthermore, the FIRs of the affected individuals were registered 24 hours later and were also against unknown suspects.
He claims that now, in the light of the Chief Minister’s committee report, action will be taken against one specific FIR.
Shrouded realities: Complexity of police encounters and justice in Faisalabad
“We have already informed the Supreme Court that we have expressed a lack of confidence in the Chief Minister’s committee and do not have faith in it. We request that a transparent investigation be conducted under the supervision of a High Court justice.”
The head of the non-governmental organisation “Rights Now Pakistan”, Ali Ahmad Pulh, says that Haris have been extrajudicially killed in Mari Jalbani. Attacks on their homes are illegal. In the case of Sughran Bibi, the Supreme Court has ruled that the police’s FIR holds no legal standing.
District Council member Bagh, Ali Jalbani, mentions that the Chief Minister’s investigative committee summoned him and UC chairman Imran Jalbani. They appeared before both committees and reiterated the position of the victims’ heirs, stating that the investigation into the killings should be conducted under the leadership of a High Court judge through a judicial commission to ensure justice for the victims.
Bagh Ali Jalbani mentions that on the third day after the incident, the heirs of the victims were summoned before the committee. However, the heirs were already receiving condolences at that time. “We had already presented their position.”
The committee appointed by the Chief Minister arrived at the scene 12 days after the incident. It offered condolences to the heirs of the victims and recorded statements from individuals like Shahmir, Ilhadad, and others.
Now, how the investigation proceeds can be estimated only after the report is presented before the high court and how justice is delivered to the heirs of the victims will be a test of time.
Published on 19 Oct 2023