Express Tribune, 17 Sep
LARKANA: After two boys were kidnapped in two separate incidents within one week in Kashmore, parents have started fearing for the safety of their children who have become an easy target for abductors.
The more recent of the two incidents was the abduction of three-year-old Mahar Pathan, who went missing on September 14 while he was playing with other children near a school in the area.
As news of the incident spread, shops were closed as residents of the area took to the streets in protest.
Meanwhile, six-year-old Dheeraj Kumar’s family has been praying for his safe return since the day he was kidnapped from Kandhkot. Dheeraj went missing on Saturday, September 11, after which his kidnappers called his father, Tashpal Das, for ransom.
“I am a primary school teacher so how can I afford to pay Rs1 million?” the frantic father told The Express Tribune, adding that his wife has been unconscious since the incident took place.
Talking to The Express Tribune, social activist Akbar Pathan said that kidnappers have taken to a new trend – that of kidnapping children, especially boys, for ransom.
“The role of the police seems bleak,” said Pathan, who claimed that the kidnappers were in fact being facilitated by the police as the latter encouraged the payment of ransom.
DPO Kashmore Abdul Salam Shaikh said these allegations were “baseless”, claiming that the police have successfully freed many kidnapped people without having to resort to paying ransom.
In Dheeraj’s case, the police tried to find the kidnappers but they had taken the boy to the Balochistan border, said Shaikh. “We know who is involved in Dheeraj’s kidnapping and hopefully the boy will be found very soon,” he added.
However, people belonging to the Hindu community, along with other residents of Kandhkot, took to the streets in protest when they heard the news of Dheeraj’s kidnapping.
They alleged that despite assurances of finding the six-year-old in two days, the police had been unable to trace the kidnappers.
“The police and other law-enforcement agencies have failed to protect minorities in Pakistan. Three children from our community have been kidnapped in the last two months. We have paid ransom for the freedom of one child, while two are still being held hostage,” said Pakistan Hindu Council vice-president Mahesh Kumar.
Hindus who were earlier settled in Jacobabad, Kashmore and Kandhkot have now been forced to move to Karachi, said Kumar, who claimed that many flood survivors had taken to robbing the houses that belonged to Hindus.
MPA Pitambar Sewani, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples Party and represents the minorities, said that he will raise the issue at the assembly.
“We are the sons of this soil, but such incidents have created fear among the people of our community,” said Sewani. “We have asked the administration of various districts to provide protection to the minorities, but our requests have been ignored,” he added.
DIG Larkana Din Mohammed Baloch said that the issue of kidnapping was very serious, adding that the law enforcers are trying to evolve a strategy on how to prevent such incidents from taking place in the future.