- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
- 05 Jan - 11 Jan, 2019
I could not believe what Naheed Khan had done. He shot himself without telling me the location of my friends. I was stunned and was in a fix on what to do. Then I started hearing murmurings from outside the house. People might have got alerted hearing gunshot. I did not waste any time and started to check pockets of Naheed Khan in case there is any cue regarding the whereabouts of my abducted friends. But I found nothing other than motorcycle keys and a wallet. The voices outside the house were getting louder and I was sure that someone must have also called police. Realising that I was running out of time, I picked up my gun and looked around but did not find any corner to hide as there was no furniture in the house. Quickly, I started searching for a place where Naheed Khan might have hidden mobile phones of Ghulam Rasul and Resham and I eventually found the things sealed in a plastic bag inside a washroom flash tank. I knew these did not carry much significance at this stage but they could prove worthwhile later in my search for the missing trio.
Now, I could hear police siren coming from a distance heading to the same location as mine. I had a last look on the dead Naheed Khan and walked out of the kitchen door following the same way from where I had come. My motorcycle was still lying in the fields where I had left it. I drove back to Ghotki and went straight to Bilal who was waiting for me. Telling him the entire story, my worries had multiplied. I knew Ghulam Rasul, Resham and her brother did not have much time. They had been kidnapped two days ago. They could not last for more than three days without food and water.
I traced one of my old sources in Karachi and gave him the cell numbers of Ghulam Rasul, Resham and her brother. Though I was not a professional investigator but it takes a little common sense and some knack to figure out the things and I was gifted with both. I told my Karachi source to get last seven days call data record of the three numbers which I had given him. Money was not an issue. Time was.
I was thinking that Naheed Khan must have called Resham and asked her to come to Karachi. He must have used my reference. Resham and her brother’s numbers got switched off at my hide out. It meant that I can get all the locations where they had been before they went switched off. Naheed Khan was not a fool to have carried their phones with them to a place where he was keeping them. Their location detail can, however, indicate all the places where the phones had been. According to my wild guess, Naheed Khan must have intercepted Resham and her brother on their way to Karachi. I knew him well. He was a sharp man. He must have told them that due to security reasons there is a change of plan and must have taken them to some house and then fed them to make them unconscious. I was also sure that he must have then shifted them to another location without their cellphones.
As for Ghulam Rasul, Naheed Khan must have found out accidentally about his presence in Ghotki. It was a golden opportunity for him to punish me heavily by hurting the only two people I cared the most in the whole world. Naheed Khan might have followed and then abducted Ghulam Rasul on his way back from the village.
I had nothing to do now but to just wait for the call data record of the mobile phones. I tried to switch on the mobile phones which I had recovered from my hide out but their batteries had ended. In the meantime, I sent Bilal to check for the hotel where Ghulam Rasul was staying in Ghotki. I transferred Ghulam Rasul’s picture on his phone and told him to find out if anything unusual had happened at the place where he was staying.
After about two hours, Bilal called me and informed me that Ghulam Rasul was staying in Mangi hotel. Nothing suspicious happened there. Hotel staff had informed the police about the missing customer. Ghulam Rasul’s baggage had been confiscated by police who did not have any further cue. Bilal, however, gave me a significant piece of information that Mangi hotel has a CCTV system installed recently. So, I asked him to get the footage of last two days from the hotel. Bilal called me after about ten minutes and told me that the digital video recorder of CCTV system has also been taken away by police. I told him to go to police station and try to get the relevant footage.
He followed my instructions but I did not hear from him again.
It was now 7 pm. Sun had set. There was no information from Karachi and Bilal’s cell phone was also switched off and it made me worried. Bilal’s ten years old son had come twice asking about his father. My phone battery was now red. I made the last call to Karachi source and told him to hurry up as life of three people depended on the call data record of the three numbers. I then told Bilal’s son to bring me a phone charger. Then I left the house and headed to Mangi hotel.
At the Mangi hotel, I found out that City Police Station was handling the missing Ghulam Rasul case. As I walked into the police station at about 9 pm, there was nobody on the gate. I went inside and found one person sleeping on a charpoy in the veranda. The police station presented a scene of some ghost house where nobody would dare come willingly. The walls of the building were dark and tattered. The floor was dusty and broken and was littered with red spots. The spider webs covered most of the ceiling. There was a cluster of wires of electricity, telephone and cable television. I went past the sleeping man and entered the first room on the right. The room had a small table on a side which was covered with a pile of files so high that I almost missed the man sitting behind it. I was about to turn back, when I heard his voice. He said something in Sindhi. I did not understand it but I was relieved to find someone. I walked up to him and extended my hand. Shaking his hand, I sat on a small chair placed on a side which produced a squeaky sound. The man was in civil dress so I could not make out as to who he was. He kept staring at me from behind his glasses with a wrinkled forehead. I told him in Urdu that I am looking for a man who had come to this police station, and then his phone went dead. This time, he definitely did not like my inquiry and told me in a harsh tone to go and sit outside and wait for the SHO to come. Without losing confidence, I asked him about the SHO.
He now looked at me disgustingly and replied, “He has gone to attend a meeting in Sukkur.”
“When will he be back?” I asked again.
He removed his glasses and instead of replying to my question, said, “Who the hell are you?”
I was now losing temper. I had to control it or I may lose more time. I had to be tactful. I immediately thought of a suitable reply, “I am Abdul Ghafoor and Shah sahib has sent me.”
He now politely asked, “Who Shah sahib?”
“You don’t know the Shah sab?” I asked him in return.
He looked a little perplexed now.
“No, I meant baray Shah sahib or chotay Shah sahib?”
I acted now as I was about to leave. He hastily said, “Ok, it does not matter. Anyway, what can I do for you?”
“Shah sahib sent someone a little while ago to this police station. That man has not yet reported back.”
Now curious, he asked, “What is his name?”
Now I was again in a state of confusion as I did not know what name Bilal used to introduce himself here. So, I replied in a cautious way.
“I don’t know his name but baray Shah sahib sent him to get a copy of the footage of Mangi hotel.”
He now seemed relaxed.
“So, you are talking about that fake news reporter Hamza but he never told me that baray Shah sahib sent him.”
“You can bring him here and I will see if he is the one. I will also let Shah sahib talk to you directly. I hope you know he does not like it but if you insist then I will make him to call you.”
This time he got up saying, “There is no need for that. I will bring your man.”
He went towards the inner side of veranda and came back after five minutes with Bilal. “Is this your man?”
Instead of replying to the policeman, I looked at Bilal and said in a harsh tone.
“Why did you not tell them that you were sent by Shah sahib. Now go and wait for me outside.”
Bilal gave me a blank look but remained quiet. The policeman handed over Bilal’s mobile phone to me and told him to run away. In the meantime, I switched on the phone and acted to dial some number. Then I looked up at the person sitting behind the desk and asked, “Should I connect you to baray Shah sahib or should I go and tell him that you have been very helpful in handing us over the Mangi hotel footage.”
He looked a little double minded. Seeing me dialling a number, he took out a pen drive from the drawer and reluctantly handed me over the same.
“I am giving it to you without knowledge of SHO. Please make a copy of it and return me the USB. Till then I will keep Hamza’s motorbike in police station.”
I put USB in my pocket and told him that Hamza will come back here in half an hour and will return the same to you. I then departed shaking his hand.
I found Bilal loitering outside the police station. He saw me and took a sigh of relief. Without saying a single word, I signalled him to follow me. After walking in the side street, he stopped me and asked about his motorbike. I told him to forget about it and don’t ever return to this police station. I showed him the USB and asked, “Do you have a computer?”
He replied in affirmative and we started walking hurriedly towards his house.
to be continued...