It was the early morning of Friday Oct 1, 2010 when we woke up to some unusual noise. By the time we got up and came out of our bedrooms, the un-invited guests had already left. They took with them all our important documents including passports, our laptops along with all the data related gadgets as well as some minor jewelry items and an old tv set. It was rather strange to see that many precious gadgets and expensive things including multi-media projector, scanner, digital cameras, video camera, DVD players, Play Stations, etc were not even touched. They had searched every thing – every small corner, drawer, cabinet of the house. They did not wake us up or try to enter the bedrooms. They also partially consumed the fruits lying in the lounge and made sure to put the left-overs at prominent places. They consumed all the drinks present in the dining room.
The police responded to our call in record time of 6 minutes. But when they came, examined the circumstantial evidence and recorded our statements, they probably guessed who our unwanted guests were. After that, the police never turned up, not even for forensic examination of the crime site until we approached Senator Rehman Malik, Minister for Interior and Mr. Kaleem Imam, Inspector General of Police, who directed the in-charge of the relevant police station to get the forensic done and start investigation into the matter.
Meanwhile, on second day of the crime, someone once again tried to jump into house through the rear boundary wall of the house. Moreover, the presence of at least three men was noticed who continued to keep surveillance of our house, sometimes on foot, sometimes on motor bikes. It was the night of October 6, when someone entered the house once again, made his presence felt, assured that inmates see him, and fled.
I brought it to the notice of the government through phone calls and through my letter to editor Daily Times published on October 7. I’m grateful to South Asian Media Commission to issue following statement on this incidence.
It may also be mentioned here, that on our request government has given us police protection while we were conveyed a message by an intelligence agency of our country that we must become “true Pakistanis” and refrain from looking and sounding like “dushman” (enemy).
May I put here loud and clear. We, my husband, my daughter and myself, are Pakistanis and don’t need to prove our love for our country to anyone. Also, please come out of your shroud and talk to us instead of breaking into our house like thieves. Come and talk. Otherwise, we’d take up the case to wherever we can. Beware.
Statement from South Asian Media Commission
LAHORE: The South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) is shocked to learn of a “robbery” at the house of Sirmed Manzoor, a senior journalist and chief coordinator of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA). Some men entered his house through a window on the night of Thursday and Friday and “stole” three passports belonging to his wife Marvi, daughter and him along with other papers and documents. They also took away three laptops, an Ipad, hard disk drives, a TV and gold jewelry. “It is not a plain and simple robbery,” said Manzoor, “I suspect some agency is involved in it and my suspicion is based on a fact that they took away our data, and travelling documents which could be of no use to anyone”.
He told the SAMC that he and his family are now being harassed after the robbery as another attempt was made on October 6 when a man dressed in white tried to enter the house from the back, but left immediately. “My daughter and maids are harassed and I have no formal security by the state or government despite many requests”, he added. “I want a formal investigation into the matter”, said Mr. Manzoor.
SAMC fully supports this demand and requests Interior Minister Rehman Malik to investigate these “hidden hands” behind this robbery who have stolen data and passports, said Mr. Najam Sethi, Secretary General of SAMC. The culture of arbitrary action of these “hidden hands” is very old and obnoxious, because no accountability of these hands was ever possible under any regime, which is very frustrating, said Mr. Sethi.
But, he continued, we hope that democratic governments will make some efforts to at least control the unlimited and unaccountable powers of these agencies. The SAMC demands that the interior ministry should provide protection to his family and ensure that the circle of harassment ends, said Mr. Sethi. If Umar Cheema was roughed up by the agencies, the same agencies have struck again, said Mr. Sethi, and we must all raise our voice in protest.