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Our cheap lives

During a recent call to a friend where he updated me about himself, his village and his area, I was shocked to know about the murder of a person named Dhani Bux (called Dhigano or Mulla by people). Bux was an affable Bhutto fan. I used to provoke him by asking him why he was so taken by someone no longer alive, and what he had received in return for his loyalty. Though he did get angry at times, he mostly responded with a smile.

His love for the Bhuttos was unmatchable; he even refused to vote for his spiritual leader who was contesting elections against the PPP. Bux’s murder was the result of a quarrel between his nephew and an uncle over a piece of land. The feud developed when both parties claimed ownership of the hereditary land. Although community elders tried to resolve the issue by engaging both parties, their efforts bore no fruit.

The feud turned bloody when about seven years ago his nephew’s daughter was killed in mysterious circumstances when she was with her father during the cutting of the date palm crop. Bux’s nephew blamed the murder on his cousins, who said he was the real target of the attack but he avoided it by hiding behind a date palm tree. Unfortunately, the bullet hit his daughter. The opposite party blamed his nephew for the murder, saying the nephew wanted to involve set them up in a murder case.

The police did not investigate fairly to ascertain who the actual killer was, despite repeated requests by the accused, and just followed the FIR. Again, the community elders tried to negotiate between both parties, but their efforts were fruitless because no one was ready to budge from their position. About two months later, Bux’s nephew’s son killed the brother of the accused. The boy went into hiding with his small family to avoid arrest. After a few days of this latest occurrence, Mulla was sleeping at his home alone when at about midnight someone entered his house and fired at him there times. He succumbed to the injuries after he was taken to the hospital. Bux leaves behind no child.

This is not first or last incident of its kind. Such things occur around the country, including Sindh. Many such incidents are not reported in the media. In another unfortunate tragedy, in Khanpur taluka of Shikarpur district, multiple people lost their lives in a feud between two parties of the Jatoi tribe. Such cases are rarely concluded or resolved in the courts. This happens for two reasons. First, because the court route is a lengthy process which takes decades to reach a conclusion – sometimes even after the death of the complainant/witness. And second, because deaths on both sides compel the parties to reach an out-of-court settlement to release their men.

Unfortunately, the role of our police department in such issues is that of a silent spectator. They usually look at such incidents as an opportunity to embezzle money from both parties, starting from the filing of the FIR to meeting with the incarcerated to presenting the chalaan in court. It is a known fact that our police department lacks the latest scientific investigation tools and methods, and still depends on dated and archaic procedures. If a complainant enters a few unidentified people in the FIR that is a double blessing. Police use that to intimidate many people and thus fill their pockets.

The misery of the accused does not end at the police station but continues in the courts and prisons as well. Apart from the huge fees as well court expenditures they give to their lawyers in the hope of getting quick relief, they also pay some amount as bribes while in prison to avoid torture and hard labour. Due to these complications, many people prefer to remain absconders.

This act of theirs provides them and their families little relief from police excesses; in fact, it ruins the future of their kids and destroys any chance they have of mental and material growth. Their families constantly remain in fear of police raids as well as attacks from their rivals. And this in turn compels them to keep their children – especially girls – at home and away from schools and even healthcare facilities.

When one reads news of such happenings or hears such stories from someone, one is forced to think that our lives are so cheap here. No one is ready to heal our wounds by reforming the justice and police systems. No one is ready to hold accountable officials who commit injustices against the common citizens of this land.

Our political leadership and political parties pay little heed to such issues. They make big pledges at the time of elections but forget them on the very next day of the election results. For example, why does a government or a political party that clips the wings of a provincial police head and legislates to end NAB’s jurisdiction in the province not legislate or reform the police department in favour of the masses? I am disappointed with the current political parties – both left and right – and their non-efforts in breaking the status quo and reforming the system in favour of the poor and underprivileged.

 The writer is a freelance contributor.

Danish Khan, "Our cheap lives," The News. 2017-07-19.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political parties , Political system , Social aspects , Leadership , Poverty , Accountability , Dhani Bux , Sindh , Khanpur , PPP , NAB