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High-level board to probe ransom case involving ‘minister’s manager’

High-level board to probe ransom case involving ‘minister’s manager’

HYDERABAD: A committee comprising the Hyderabad DIG and four SSPs has been set up by the home minister to hold an inquiry into the kidnapping for ransom case in which Bashir Brohi, the manager of a provincial minister, was arrested in Hyderabad a couple of days back by the Thatta police.

Brohi, who was also said to be an informer of former Hyderabad SSP Pir Farid Jan Sarhandi, was handed over to the Hyderabad police on Friday night.

“The high-level inquiry team will thoroughly investigate the case,” said Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch.

An FIR of the kidnapping of Asif Memon — the first cousin of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer and former DIG Bashir Memon — was lodged at the Hatri police station on behalf of state against “unknown persons” under relevant sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 one year after the incident took place. Mr Memon’s family had been avoiding to lodge an FIR ever since he was kidnapped. He was released on payment of ransom.

On Saturday, Brohi was produced in the Hyderabad Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) which remanded him in police custody for 15 days. Earlier, the Hyderabad CIA submitted in the ATA a certificate confirming that the suspect was arrested in Thatta and handed over to the Hyderabad police on Friday night.

A team of Rangers personnel proceeded to Thatta from Karachi to interrogate Brohi. After taking over the charge of Thatta SSP, Fida Hussain Mastoi removed Dhabeji SHO Zulfikar Arain, CIA official in charge at Thatta Anwar Lakho (who arrested Brohi in the Qasimabad area of Hyderabad) and sub-inspector Ibrahim Pitafi, all trusted subordinates of ex-SSP Sarhandi.

Home Minister Suhail Anwar Siyal constituted the committee/board headed by Hyderabad DIG Khadim Rind with the Hyderabad, Badin, Matiari and Jamshoro SSPs being its members to investigate the case.

Where was the ransom actually collected?

Responding to Dawn’s query whether the committee/board would call Mr Sarhandi during the probe, SSP Irfan Baloch said, “Yes, the board will call and hear him to verify his claim that the ransom was paid at [minister] Sharjeel Memon’s house in the Defence area of Hyderabad.”

Mr Sarhandi was widely quoted by the electronic media that the ransom had been paid at the minister’s residence. Bashir Memon’s family, however, is still tightlipped over the whole episode.

The Sindh information department has issued a handout carrying a statement of Bashir Memon’s cousin, Khalid Memon (also a friend of Sharjeel Memon) urging the media to stop “a media trial” of Sharjeel Memon and avoid airing such baseless news against him. “Sharjeel Memon has got nothing to do with it and we have old family ties with him,” read the statement.

The minister was elected to the provincial assembly from the PS-50 Hyderabad rural constituency.

Police sources claim that the ransom was paid at the residence of Badar Memon, another cousin of Bashir Memon and a former UC nazim belonging to the PPP. While Badar Memon is still with the PPP, Bashir Memon has been at odds with the Hala-based Makhdooms since the 2013 elections.

He was said to be supporting PML-F’s Abdul Razaq Memon, who contested against PPP-Parliamentarians chief Makhdoom Amin Fahim.

Apprehensions of victim’s family

A source within the Memon family said that they [the family] believed that the new Thatta SSP, Fida Hussain Mastoi, would have released Brohi had the Rangers team from Karachi not reached Thatta to interrogate him. “Brohi was eventually handed over to the Hyderabad police”, said the source.

“During Asif Memon’s captivity, both Sharjeel Memon and Pir Farid Jan Sarhandi had played a positive role in his safe recovery. Brohi had played a trick, rather he actually hoodwinked us. He kept us in the dark by telling us that he is just the go-between.

He got an assurance from us on the Holy Quran that he will not be touched after Asif Memon’s release and that our family should request Sharjeel Memon and SSP Sarhandi to ask him to help us in his recovery,” the family source explained.

Prime suspect among many

The aggrieved Memon family had under oath undertaken that they will not seek arrest of Asif Memon’s kidnappers and that’s why they didn’t pursue the case, according to reliable sources. Since Mr Sarhandi has now himself revealed everything on record, the Memons are poised to know who are the culprits and whether Bashir Brohi got the victim kidnapped.

“It is Iqbal Brohi, a resident of Tando Allahyar, who is the prime suspect,” said a police source, adding that he carries a head-money of Rs5 million. “Mr Sarhandi leaked it out [Bashir Brohi’s capture] prematurely. The timing of the disclosure is being taken seriously in the present political situation,” the police source said.

Other sources said that Asif’s cousins along with Ashfaq Leghari, a former corporate sector employee, had approached the minister to make a request to Bashir Brohi and the minister reluctantly obliged him [Mr Leghari].

The aggrieved family seems perturbed over government-level moves to somehow get Bashir Brohi released.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2015

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