Crime and inefficiency
By Malik Siraj Akbar
Gone missing on the night of Mach 29 this year, the decomposed body of 10-year-old Shagufta Riaz Parachi was found by the police over two months later in a deserted corner of Railway Colony on Zargoon Road in Quetta.
The girl had gone missing after she left her house to run an errand, never to return. A guard in the area has been arrested for the murder, but it is too late. The dead girl’s parents blame her death on the negligence and irresponsibility of law enforcement authorities and the apathy of the justice system.
In fact, observers say Shagufta’s case is cause for worry because it suggests a new cycle of abduction of young children in Balochistan. Currently, two other children have also been reported missing: 6-year old Adil was kidnapped from Bashir Chowk on Quetta’s Sariab Road on May 24. He was walking with his sister when some men forced him into a car. Just a day after Adil’s abduction, four men kidnapped 14-year-old Ihsanullah at gunpoint from Quetta’s Satellite Town. The boy was on his way to school in a school van. A case was registered but Ihsan has not been found yet. Residents in the area fear that Adil and Ihsan will meet the same fate as Shagufta.
What is the police doing about the situation? IG Police, Balochistan, Yaqoob Chaudhry, says law enforcement agencies are hunting for the kidnapped children and the culprits. However, what Shagufta’s father narrates about the troubles he had to go to trying to get help from the police and others in power tells a different story.
Riaz Paracha says all efforts by the family to recover the missing girl proved futile. “We lodged an FIR soon after Shagufta went missing but the police failed to trace her despite the fact that the Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court Amanullah Yasinzai took suo motu notice of the incident and directed the police to find her,” the father told TFT
“We even tried to meet the governor, chief minister, IG and DIG but were not put through to them. I went to meet the governor several times but was always told that he was in an “important meeting”. The man was too ‘busy’ to grant me justice; and why would he when he does not even belong to this province [Balochistan],” said Riaz. “It was only the chief justice of Balochistan High Court who showed any interest in the matter and directed the police to recover the girl. That too did not work,” he added.
According to Riaz Paracha and his family, they were unable to get justice or help from the state because they are poor. “Had my daughter been the daughter of a sardar, bureaucrat, politician or a rich man, the police would have come to our rescue. Perhaps our only fault is that we are poor,” he said. Interestingly, instead of conceding its failures, Quetta police, after the recovery of the girl’s dead body and her parent’s recognition of the body as their daughter’s, continue to suggest that the body is not Shagufta’s.
On the other hand, Dr Shamim Gul Mishwani, the police surgeon who carried out the autopsy, says the post-mortem report confirmed that the body was indeed Shagufta’s and is two months old. Shagufta’s mother also recognised her trousers, saying that she had purchased the same coloured dress for her three daughters. Her family also identified Shagufta’s body from her gold earrings, hair band and the five-rupee coin she was carrying.
The news of the discovery of Shagufta’s body sent a wave of terror across the province. While residents of the area where the Parachas live took to the streets and demanded that the police be punished for its negligence and the culprits be immediately found, no one from Balochistan’s civil society, except the lawyers’ community, came forward to condemn the child’s murder. “No rallies of condemnation were taken out by the so called champions of human rights; Shagufta was buried silently,” said a family member.
According to her family, it was 8 pm on March 29 that Shagufta ventured out of her house to buy a packet of cream. At the shop, she realised that she was five rupees short and hurried home to get the extra money. She left her house again with the amount, and never returned.
Her father, a shopkeeper, reported her disappearance at the city police station. After there was no progress on the case, the family registered, on April 4, a case of abduction. The case was handed over to the investigation cell of Quetta police but there were no breakthroughs until Shagufta’s body was finally found under a tree that had fallen due to strong winds.