Received some rather strange news this morning from my mum and then her little sister. I wrote two years ago about my mum's little brother being kidnapped in Pakistan in what was previously a very safe area of Pakistan (original post here, our fears for him here, news of his recovery here and a post about how he was found here).
I had thought that this was the end of it. The local police did not seem interested in helping our family prosecute, the gang of dacoits (those not locked up) regularly terrorised people across the district and people were generally afraid to go out. My uncle and other family members continued to have threats made agaist them making the whole family feel anxious and helpless.
Until this morning, when mum and aunt got one phone call after another from Pakistan from family members telling them about the killing and capture of more of the dacoits. There seems to be more than one version of events, but what seems to have happened is that the dacoits were regularly visiting and harassing the nomadic shepherds who had settled in the area over the last few years. These same shepherds were the ones who had been befriended by my uncle when other people did not want to deal with them and then passed information about my uncle to the dacoits leading to his kidnapping.
The two groups - shepherds and dacoits fell out leading to the shepherds lodging a complaint to the police. Someone in the police station informed the dacoits who then paid the shepherds a visit:
JHELUM: Unidentified people shot dead a man and injured two others besides kidnapping two of the same family in Pari Dervaizan area of Sohawa on Saturday. The accused entered a house and held the family members hostage. They severely injured them and poured salt and pepper into their wounds. During the torture, Muhammad Siddique died while Shabbir and Ghulam Rabbani were seriously injured. Later, the attackers kidnapped Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi.
After the incident, relatives of the victim family blocked GT Road by placing the body in front of THQ Hospital. The traffic from both side remained suspended for five hours. Jhelum DPO Tayyab Hafeez Cheema reached the spot and held talks with the victim family. On the assurance of the DPO that dacoits would be arrested, the protesters dispersed.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers have demanded Rs five million for the release of the abductees. The Sohawa police have registered a case against Gulfraz, Moazaam Ali, Noor Muhammad and an unknown accused under sections 34, 324, 302, 365A of the PPC. The Sohawa SHO has been appointed as investigation officer. The DPO said that the teams had been constituted to arrest the accused and recover the abductees. Sources said that the family members worked as informers for police and the accused had killed and kidnapped them to exact revenge on them
This article doedn't mention that some of the women in the family were beaten even more brutally and a raped. The family who had been attacked asked the police for protection and ended up with a handful of policeman at their "dera" or campsite who proceeded to eat all of their food and slaughter one of their animals each day. In the end the sit-in and contacts with police higher up in the chain provokied action on the part of the police and there seems to have been a shoot-ut at the town which is 15 minutes from our village. The brother of the dacoit captured during the raid that freed my uncle was shot dead and another man caught. Two more were injured but escpaed and are being sought.
The dead mans body has been dumped at a local shrine where people from local villages and towns have come to take a look and convince themselves that the man is dead (I would say why on earth have the police not taken the body - but what can you honestly expect?). A rather nasty end to a very nasty affair. My family feel they can breathe easier and insh'Allah this is the end of this matter for all of us.
The shepherds have packed up and left almost overnight and we continue to get drips and drabs of news about what is going on (there is more in the Urdu newspapers, but not muh more that I could find in English). I sincerely hope and make da that this means a return to safety for my families little corner of Punjab insh'Allah.