July 20, 2010

Mock exercise! Cellphone snatched at gunpoint

By Ghulam Rehman

Yesterday, in the evening, a relative came to visit us at our home in Rawalpindi. We chatted for about an hour or so and then he wanted to meet someone in the area. He left, saying that he would be back within 20 minutes.

After three minutes the doorbell rang. He was back but with a terrorized face!

“What happened?” I asked, “are you okay?”

“I saw death from a very close range,” he answered while cleaning the beads of perspiration from his forehead.

We all there were shocked but happy that he was alive! Since March this year, we're living under the shadow of death especially after attempts on the life of my elder brother in the same locality. Since then, he has not stepped outside the home, seeking security from the government.

Anyhow, the relative set on the sofa near his wife. “Two armed guys on a bike snatched my cellphone just outside,” he told his wife with a weary smile.

We all looked at each other and took sigh of relief that the culprits didn't hurt him. "Cellphones come and go, no problem, life is precious," someone commented happily.

“The cellphone is no problem,” his wife said, “did they beat you?”

"No," he said, "I didn't show resistance."

Then he narrated the whole story with a pretended smile. The men, riding on the bike stopped him outside our home as if they were on a sort of ‘duty’ and put the gun towards his head. They snatched his phone and fled away.

Such incidents rarely happen in our Satellite Town, a middle-class area of the city. The movement of ‘mysterious’ people has also been reduced in the area, which had even terrorized some of our neighbors.

“Spies were moving here and there especially in the park (outside our home) after the attempts on your brother's life,” a neighbor told me while looking around. “But this (snatching of cellphone) seems a new phenomenon! Be careful!”

There are some questions in my mind: why the culprits made our relative a target although there were some other people around as well? Why this happened in a time when we’re facing threat from the accused gang of journalists, government officials and secret agencies?

Isn’t this a "mock exercise" to fulfill their sinister plan – kill and declare it an incident of street crime? A reporter of DawnNews was reportedly killed in such a mysterious way in Lahore last year (See links).

"I know the criminal minds and their crimes very well," my brother says, "they want to kill me because they’re sure that when I'm gone the family would be scattered and finally history!"

Since start of the tragic episode, my parents are very ill due to continuous mental torture, but the government of Pakistan is still silent. No security, no investigation into the allegations and no registration of criminal cases against the powerful accused. We've no one but God!

1- DawnNews reporter shot dead: http://www.allvoices.com/news/2801628-dawnnews-reporter
2- Dawn editorial: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/tariq-malik

(Photo of the crime scene -- D-Block, Satellite Town, Rawalpindi -- by the writer)

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