KARACHI: After travelling for 11 days by foot, the long march for Sindh-based missing persons reached the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.
The march, organised by Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh and the Sindh Human Rights Organisation, began on July 6 in Hyderabad. Participants were welcomed by civil society and human rights organisations in Karachi. The march passed through Jamshoro, Sujawal and Thatta districts before culminating in the port city.
Men, women and children carrying placards and banners inscribed with various slogans demanded the recovery of their loved ones. “Please prime minister, release my brother,” read a placard held by Sindhu Chandio, a young girl whose brother Sabir Chandio went missing on January 17. “He had gone to attend the birthday celebrations of GM Syed in Sann town and was picked up from Dadu,” she said, adding that Sabir has never been involved in any criminal activities and was affiliated with the Jeay Sindh Mahaz (Arisar Group).
“Initially we were told that the police had arrested him. Our father checked each and every police station in Dadu district and knocked on the doors of the judiciary but no one provided us any information,” Sindhu lamented. “Finally, our father died while struggling to recover his son. My mother is on a hunger strike in front on the Larkana Press Club and I am here,” she said. The girl added that her family, especially Sabir’s children, live below the poverty line and depend on Sabir’s income to survive.
Tears poured down Sarang Lohar’s cheeks. His father, Hiyaadat Lohar, went missing Nasirababad Town in Kamber-Shahdadkot on April 17. “My father is a primary teacher. He was picked up while on duty. Some cops approached him, saying there was an investigation pending against him and since then he has been missing,” he lamented.
Khadim Arejo, Sami Kakepoto, Murtaza Junejo, Ghulam Raza Jarwar and Mukhtiar Almani are among 51 others who have been subjected to enforced disappearances and for whom the long march was convened.
Punhal Sario, who heads Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, told The Express Tribune that all the people who had gone missing did not have a criminal background. “A few of them are not even affiliated with any political parties,” he said.
Sario added that since the beginning of the long march 11 more people have disappeared in Sindh. “If anyone is involved in a criminal activity then they should be produced before the court of law,” he urged, adding that in the last few years, political workers have been picked up and later their disfigured bodies are presented after being ‘killed’ in encounters with law enforcers.
He said that people living in Sindh are demanding their due rights but state-owned agencies torture, kidnap and kill them brutally. “Sindhi people have a unique history and culture and will not succumb to any pressure to withdraw their democratic rights,” he said, adding that their peaceful struggle will continue till its logical end.