KARACHI: An aide of MQM’s senior leader Dr Farooq Sattar died in Rangers custody on Tuesday within 48 hours of his detention by the paramilitary force. The MQM worker was reportedly picked up from his residence on Sunday and presented in an anti-terrorism court a day later.
While the Rangers said Aftab Ahmed Hussain died of cardiac arrest, the MQM alleged their man was tortured during interrogation which led to his death.
Aftab, 42, who had been working as Sattar’s coordinator since 2002, was detained by the Rangers in a raid in FB Area, Karachi. He was shifted to the Mitha Ram Hostel, a declared sub-jail where the paramilitary force interrogates suspected criminals and terrorists.
The Rangers, however, did not disclose his arrest until he was produced before an anti-terrorism court on Monday. The court allowed the Rangers to detain the suspect in 90-day preventive custody. At 8am on Tuesday, Aftab was brought to the state-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and died shortly afterwards.
Dr Seemin Jamali, who heads the JPMC’s Emergency Ward, said the man had no blood pressure or pulse on arrival. He was declared dead at 8:20am after cardiopulmonary resuscitation failed to revive him.
Additional Police Surgeon Dr Kaleem Shaikh said the cause of death has been reserved until chemical and histopathology reports. The final autopsy report will take more than a week.
Kaleem was among a four-member team that carried out the post-mortem. Hospital and Edhi morgue sources told The Express Tribune Aftab’s body bore severe torture marks.
A statement issued by Rangers said the accused complained of chest pain early in the morning and was taken to hospital where he died of a heart attack.
The Rangers spokesperson said Aftab was arrested over his involvement in different criminal cases on May 1. No details of the cases were shared.
The MQM, however, termed the death a murder and demanded that the authorities conduct an inquiry of the extrajudicial killing. The party has also announced a countrywide day of mourning for today (Wednesday).
MQM Convener Nadeem Nusrat rejected the Rangers claim that Aftab died of a heart attack, contending he was tortured to death.
In a statement issued from London, he requested the prime minister, chief justice, Karachi corps commander and army chief to order an impartial judicial investigation. The inquiry report should be made public within a week, he added.
Nusrat said MQM workers had died in the custody of law enforcement agencies previously as well but no action had been taken against them. He also accused the Rangers of kicking out doctors and staff from the morgue to tamper with the post-mortem report.
Aftab, father of five, joined the MQM in 1990. His funeral was held at Numaish Chowrangi, where a large number of workers gathered to offer prayers.
Speaking to reporters after the funeral, Sattar said the activist’s death raised several questions since the deceased suffered no ailments. “Even if he had a heart attack, what caused it? What was the environment in which he was being interrogated? If his death is natural, there should be proof to satisfy this claim,” he said. “After seeing Aftab’s body, no one can say he died of natural causes.”
The MQM leader said Aftab had no criminal record and was innocent. “The government and policymakers should bring an end to such activities where people are being picked up without any evidence against them,” he added.
Since the launch of Karachi operation in September 2013, the MQM claims its 56 workers have become victims of custodial deaths and extrajudicial killings. More than 170 workers are still missing after being detained.