Tensions Simmer Over Mysterious Death Of Mallah Clan Member In Sujawal

Community stages protest, lodges petition in Hyderabad court to register a case against police officials involved in the encounter where Mallah allegedly committed suicide

Tensions Simmer Over Mysterious Death Of Mallah Clan Member In Sujawal

Several hundred men and women from the Mirbahar community, known as Mallahs in Sindh's district of Sujawal, staged a protest over the weekend against the mysterious death of Rashid Mallah in an alleged encounter with the Hyderabad Police last week. 

The Hyderabad Police, however, maintain that Rashid Mallah, fearing arrest, had committed suicide while exchanging fire with a police squad which was attempting to apprehend him.

Rashid Mallah and Raheel Memon

Rashid Mallah was a resident of Hyderabad. His living quarters were adjacent to a petrol pump owned by Raheel Arif Memon. Around eight months ago, a wall of the petrol pump had caved in during heavy rains, causing the death of Mallah's nine-year-old daughter. 

Mallah had subsequently filed an FIR against the fuel station's owner. However, the fuel station's owner and some elders, attempted to convince Mallah to withdraw the case in exchange for compensation worth around Rs1.2 million. 

Former Sindh Assembly member from Sujawal Nasir Qureshi claimed that Mallah was compensated to the tune of Rs1.2 million for his daughter's death on behalf of Memon per a settlement reached in the presence of the ex-MPA and some other notables. 

But Mallah's relatives later rejected the claim that they had received compensation.

Memon's death and suspicion on Mallah

Last week, Memon was shot dead near a private hospital located within the jurisdiction of the Phulelli police station. Police suspected Mallah was behind Memon's murder. 

Memon's brother, Mohammad Adeel, lodged an FIR for the murder at the Phulelli police station and nominated Mallah against him at the same police station.

After registering the FIR, the police launched a search to arrest Mallah. However, they claimed that Mallah fled Hyderabad to his native Sujawal to evade arrest.

Family refutes Adeel's allegations

In a press conference at the Sujawal Press Club after his alleged suicide, Mallah's family claimed that Mallah was in Sujawal when Memon was killed.

Mallah's maternal uncles and grandparents, who live in the Yosuf Mirbahar village of Sujawal district, said the alleged murder suspect was visiting them at the time.
They claimed that a large contingent of Sujawal and Hyderabad Police raided the village on the evening of January 19 and arrested Rashid Mallah from the residence of his grandparents. They accused the police of killing Mallah extrajudicially in a staged encounter.

They alleged that during the raid, the police took away valuables belonging to Mallah's grandparents and detained some members of his family. They stated that the police had not disclosed the whereabouts of these family members or provided information about their fate. 

Hyderabad police disputes witness claims

The Hyderabad Police, meanwhile, has disputed the version of events narrated by Mallah's family and other residents of the Yosuf Mirbahar village. 

A spokesperson for the Hyderabad Police said that Rashid Mallah had been nominated in the murder of Raheel Memon. The official added that the Hyderabad Police received a tip-off about Mallah being spotted near a housing scheme within the remits of the Hatri police station on Thursday night. 

About the alleged police encounter, the official claimed that the suspect first fired at the police and that the police retaliated by firing in return. During this exchange, the official stated that Mallah turned his gun on himself. 

The police added that even after allegedly receiving compensation, Mallah continued to pursue Memon and refused to withdraw the FIR.

Petition filed to register FIR

Meanwhile, the family of Rashid Mallah have filed a petition before a Sessions Court in Hyderabad, urging the court to direct the police to lodge an FIR against police officials of Hyderabad and Sujawal district for allegedly murdering Rashid Mallah.

The elders of Sujawal's Mallah community have urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take a Suo Moto notice against the alleged extrajudicial killing of their clansman.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.