Tales from the Dungeon: Imran Hakeem

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Drafted by: Asif Magsi

It was around 8:00 am on March 17, 2017, and I was sleeping in my room in Parom, district Panjgoor. All of a sudden, I heard someone screaming my name to wake me up. As soon as I opened my eyes my elder sister was squealing at me to wake up and run away as quickly as possible, because the military had sieged the entire village. Unfortunately, before I could put on any clothes and leave, military personnel had already entered our house and started looking for whatever they could find.

As I came out from my room, I saw the personnel threatening my family members and looting and plundering expensive household items. They rushed towards me and grabbed me, forcibly dragged me out of my home. There was a car outside with tinted windows.

I could see there were already several blindfolded young men from my village lined up. After a short while one of the personnel pointed towards an officer in uniform who was to interrogate me.

First, they searched me, then inquired my name. Then they started interrogating me by abruptly asking a series of irrelevant questions, like my affiliation with Baloch political parties or Baloch separatists and armed groups, their details, where their camps were and who supported them, and the whereabouts and hideouts of their friends and sympathizers.

The officer then alleged that I must know about the recent ambush on the military personnel by the separatists. My only answer was that I didn’t know anything. I took my student card out from pocket and told them I was studying in Gwadar and was at home for vacation. From then on, they started beating me up and placed my face toward a wall.

After a short while the officer had some conversation with his fellow personnel, then one of them walked toward me and blindfolded me before putting me on the back of their car and driving off. After a 10 to 15 minutes’ drive, the cars stopped. I heard some noises of people screaming desperately. I felt they had stopped at a nearby village, maybe for another wave of abductions. Then again after 15 to 20 minutes they left that village and stopped again after a short while. I was offloaded from car. My blindfold was removed. I saw there were four more people being forcibly abducted along with me. We were ordered to sit on the ground facing a wall. Our pockets were searched once again. They took our wallets and other stuff and wrote our names and the list of items which they took from our pockets.

After a short while again they blindfolded us and loaded us on to the cars. But this time we were put in different cars. They drove for about two hours and stopped the cars. I heard mumbling voices of the military personnel talking to each other. “This is Pullabad Bazar, there was a military operation earlier but nobody was abducted.” Then they left Pullabad Bazar.

The vehicles drove almost for half an hour and entered a compound where I heard people yelling and talking to each other in Urdu. I was brought out from the car and someone held my hands, after going a few steps up the stairs, I heard a door opening and I was thrown into a room along with a couple of other people. And, we were told to be silent, we remained blindfolded.

After about half an hour, some people came to our room. Among them there was a local Balochi-speaking man. He was pointing toward us by touching our shoulders and accusing that these people are terrorists and their friends and family members are involved in terrorist attacks like targeting military personnel and their camps. He also accused us many others things. Then they left.

On this entire day we were not given any food. Later on, someone came to our cell and removed our blindfolds and took us to a toilet. He told us that we had only five minutes to use the toilet. After five minutes we were again blindfolded, then brought in our room. We were threatened not to talk each other. If we talked, we would be punished. After a short while someone brought some dirty and old blankets.

The second day, they gave us a small bottle of water, five small slices of bread, and some vegetables.

It was night-time on the second day when they came and took us to another room for interrogation. Where again they started asking a series of questions like where our camps are located, who supports our movement, who is responsible for providing us with food and other stuff, for how long we have been associated with which party, whether we were among the attackers on that particular day when their personnel were targeted and killed. When I innocently, and in under immense fear replied, that I was just a student. After hearing this, they tortured me, hung me upside down and beat me for several hours.

After that, they brought me back to my cell. Furthermore, they continued doing the same routine of interrogating and then torturing me for almost five days in a row. During these times, I was told that if I did not confess to what they thought I had done, I would be killed and my body would be left to be eaten by insects.

On the sixth day, when they hung me upside down, I started bleeding from my nose. I became unconscious and remained on the floor for maybe a few hours. After that they threw me back to the cell. The cell was small with about two meters in length and one and a half meters in width where they had put four other abductees along with me so that we could not stretch our feet to get some comfort for our aching bodies.

After that night, when I was bleeding, they did not take me for interrogation for two days. Then on the ninth day, in the evening, someone came to me and asked me to stand-up in a foreign language; when I stood up, my eyes were blindfolded, they brought me to another room. They presented a paper and asked me to sign it and then asked me to work for them. They gave me a few names and asked me to kill them. I said I would not kill anyone and that I was not a killer. Then they said they would release me on the condition if I informed them about the movement of Baloch freedom fighters whenever I saw them near our village. They asked me to contact them when the fighters visited their homes in the village. They threatened me by saying that if I did not agree to do that, they would not release me. I was helpless and agreed to their demand. They later asked me about my belongings at the time of my abduction. I replied that there was a pair of earphones, some money, a wristwatch, and my student card. The officer asked a soldier to go and bring my belongings. About five minutes later, the soldier came back and said that he could not find my belongings. Then the officer told me that they my stuff mighg be in a local camp in my hometown called Parom. They blindfolded me once again and threw me in a vehicle, just as they had done nine days ago when abducting us. They told me they would kill me. However, after a drive of approximately 20 minutes, they stopped and dropped me there. They told me not to remove the blindfold for the next ten minutes, and they left. After a long time, I removed my blindfold under utter fear and noticed that I had been dropped near Panjgoor about 80 kilometers away from my home.

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