Police in Pakistan have arrested a locally powerful landowner and two accomplices for allegedly chopping off the hands of a 17-year-old farmworker whose family had failed to repay a loan of 15,000 rupees ($150). The incident took place around two months ago in the agricultural district of Hafizabad, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Lahore city. It was only reported to police Monday after the victim’s family decided to speak out.
Landowning families wield considerable power in rural Pakistan, practising a form of feudalism over the peasant and subsistence farmers in their employ. “Asad Israr-ul-Haq and his two accomplices have chopped off hand of Akram Abu Bakar, 17 years old,” said a copy of the police report. “The victim’s family had borrowed 15,000 rupees from the landlord and they were not able to return it,” it added.
Local police station chief Mahmood Butt said the attackers had used a feed chopper to mutilate the teenager. Abu Bakar’s family returned to their native district of Sheikhupura after the attack, fearing further reprisals from the landowner. They were eventually persuaded by a local journalist to break their silence, Butt said.
The office of Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of the bread-basket province of Punjab where the attack took place, said he had asked police to submit their report to him.