Pakistan minister accused of keeping private prison after bullet-ridden bodies found

Screengrab. A woman and her two sons were reportedly tortured and killed in a minister’s private jail in Balochistan, Pakistan   (Islam Murad Baloch / Twitter)
Screengrab. A woman and her two sons were reportedly tortured and killed in a minister’s private jail in Balochistan, Pakistan (Islam Murad Baloch / Twitter)

A Pakistan minister was accused of keeping a private jail in his home in Balochistan after the bullet-ridden bodies of three people were discovered in a well near his house.

Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran, Balochistan minister for Communication and Works has, however, denied the accusations and said they were part of a conspiracy against him.

On 20 February, police found charred and bullet-ridden bodies of a woman and her two sons in sacks in a well near the minister’s home in Barkhan district, the local media reported.

The victims have been identified as Giran Naz, 40, and her two sons Mohammad Nawaz, 22, and Abdul Qadir, 15.

On Wednesday, hundreds of members of the local community – the Marri tribe – continued protesting in Balochistan’s Quetta against the accused minister.

Pakistan’s Dawn reported that the victims were identified as the wife and two sons of one Khan Muhammad Marri who claimed that the minister had kept his family captive for almost four years in his private jail.

“These are the bodies of my wife and two sons who were kept in a private jail in Haji Kot for the last four years,” he was quoted as saying.

He claimed that his five other children, including his 13-year-old daughter, are still languishing in the minister’s private jail.

In the wake of these accusations, it was reported that the local police raided the house of Mr Khetran late on Tuesday night but so far, no arrests have been reported.

The case has sparked an outcry on social media with the former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, joining the clamour on Twitter. He wrote: “Strongly condemn illegal incarceration, physical abuse and killing of a poor Baloch woman and her children in Khetran, Balochistan in private jail of Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran.”

He added that “immediate action must be taken against this law of the jungle”.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan tweeted that it is “horrified by the discovery of three bullet-ridden bodies”. The commission demanded that the “serious allegations must be investigated promptly”.

Mr Marri said his family was imprisoned in 2019 in Mr Khetran’s private jail after he failed to testify in a case between the provincial minister and his son, Sardar Inam Khetran.

Protestors have said that they will not bury the bodies of the woman and her two sons until prime minister Shehbaz Shariff pays them a visit.

On Wednesday, Balochistan minister for Home Affairs Mir Ziaullah Langove also wrote to the law enforcement agencies seeking the “safe recovery” of Marri’s family members.

A local hospital had said that the bodies bore marks of torture and had bullet wounds in their skulls. Their hands and feet were tied with ropes and the woman’s face was crushed.

Mr Khetran has denied allegations of keeping a private prison and torturing the family of Mr Marri. “I have not kept anyone in pri­son and such allegations are al­ways levelled whenever elections are near,” he said.

However, his son Inam Shah allegedly confirmed that bodies were found in the well.

Mr Khetran told Pakistan’s Geo TV: “Last night, around two kilometres away from home, three bodies were thrown in a well. I don’t know who threw them.”

This is not the first time that Mr Khetran has been accused of keeping a private prison. In 2014, the local police and Anti Terrorist Force conducted a raid on his private jail and said, at the time, seven people including two women, and three children were recovered.

“A high-level impartial investigation committee will be conducted in consultation with the families of victims whose bodies have been recovered from [the well] in Barkhan,” Balochistan inspector general of police Abdul Khaliq Sheikh said in a statement.