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Mystery shrouds 200 rotting bodies in Pakistan hospital, activists seek probe

Chief Minister, Punjab, Tariq Zaman Gujjar on the roof of the mortuary at Nishtar Hospital, Pakistan (Photo: Twitter)

The discovery of nearly 200 rotting bodies on the roof of Nishtar hospital in Pakistan’s Punjab on Friday continues to baffle. Though the hospital maintains these bodies were meant for educational purposes, human rights activists say that these could belong to the “victims of enforced disappearances”–people kidnapped by the Pakistani military and spy agencies.

The Europe-based Human Rights Council of Balochistan (HRCB) has said that the federal government should undertake a “thorough investigation into the cause of death of the bodies and take measures to establish the identities of the bodies through DNA collection and matching”. It added that the incident should not be swept under the carpet like the unmarked graves found in Totak, near Khuzdar in the strife-torn Balochistan in 2014.

Social media photos and videos showed that the bodies, which were decomposed and putrefied, had been devoured by vultures and crows.

Condemning the discovery of bodies as a “crime against humanity, the US-based Baloch American Congress (BAC) urged the US Congress to send a fact-finding mission to Balochistan. It also appealed to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) “to fulfill its global obligations and conduct postmortem and DNA tests of the bodies of Baloch victims of enforced disappearances found on rooftop of Multan hospital, Pakistan”.

The Pakistani mainstream media has not reported the numbers of bodies while the social media has been rife with “500 bodies” found on hospital rooftop.

The Punjab government has set up an inquiry committee to investigate the gruesome revelation while Nishtar hospital too has formed a three-member committee to inquire into the sensational discovery on its rooftop.

Deflecting attention, the hospital held rescue officials and police responsible for the decomposing bodies in the morgue and on the roof.

Giving a more accurate assessment on the number of bodies, a Baloch National Movement (BNM) spokesperson told India Narrative that at least 238 bodies are confirmed to have been found from the hospital. He said that it was only through social media that the news broke out which was later picked up by the mainstream media.

The BNM has also alleged that Pakistani security forces run many torture cells in Punjab where Baloch political prisoners have been kept earlier.

Pointing out the glaring gaps in information from the government as well as the hospital, the BNM source added: “no one has explained who those people were. Even if the numbers are not 500, they were once living human beings. Their bodies were destroyed and it is not only an inhumane action but it is an action against the Islamic rules and law”.

He alleged: “We believe that these bodies are of the victims of enforced disappearances because this is not the first time that such numbers of bodies are being found from Punjab. I hope that these people were not missing persons but one can not ignore the brutalities of Pakistani forces. They are capable of abducting people from one part of the country and then extra-judicially killing them in a different part of the country”.

Many activists have alleged that from the remnants of clothes, the bodies seem to be of Baloch people. Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) chief Dr Allah Nazar also urged the UN and human rights agencies to take urgent notice of the gruesome incident. He also demanded a fact-finding mission should be sent to Multan.

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