Man imprisoned in his own house for 23 years in Vehari
VEHARI: Police officials recovered a man who had been kept prisoner by his family for over 23 years on Wednesday.
Vehari 1-WB village resident Muhammad Sabir had been cuffed in metal chains for the last 23 years by his wife Sughran, his sons and his younger brother Sadiq. Sabir was being held prisoner in an enclosed stable along with the family’s animals and was severely malnourished when the police recovered him.
“We received a call by one of his neighbours who said they heard a wailing sound in the freezing cold at night,” said Machiwaal Police Station Investigation Officer Ayaz Khan. “We thought Sabir had died years ago because there was no sign of him but they must have moved him to the stables outside their house.
Two days ago we began hearing him wailing in the cold and at first we thought it was an animal but yesterday my husband discovered who it was and we called the police,” said Sabir’s neighbour Zulekhan Bibi.
Khan said that when his team found Sabir he was nearly dead from malnutrition and pneumonia. “The stables were freezing and he could barely speak,” he said, adding that the police had taken his family into custody and registered a case.
Sabir’s father Raheem had left him his entire property, which comprised of nearly eight acres of land. According to residents of the area and their neighbour Kareem, in 1987 there was a rumour that Sabir wanted to remarry and his family ganged up on him.
“They created a huge hue and cry at the time and later we just stopped seeing him. His family claimed that he had left the village but many of us suspected he had been killed,” Kareem said.
Kareem said that several villagers had complained to the police at the time but nothing was done and they supposed that Sabir had either run away or had been killed. “We never suspected that he was alive and being imprisoned. They must have held him in the basement of the house,” he said.
Sabir’s wife Sughran and his brother Sadiq told the police that they had imprisoned him because he was mentally ill and had become a danger to the family. “He lost his memory and would go about hitting people and throwing stones at them. We did this to keep others safe,” his brother Sadiq told the police.
Sabir can barely speak but police officials said that his sons confessed that he had been manacled for over 23 years and that their uncle often whipped him for not signing over property papers. Local residents claimed that he was a famous Kabaddi player in his youth and had won many championships.
“He was very well known which is why they hid him. They knew that a lot of people would have supported him if they openly contested the property issues,” a neighbour told the police.
Investigation officer Khan said that the police had received a call stating that a man was being chained up in secret and when they raided they discovered that Sabir had been imprisoned for decades. Sabir has been shifted to the Vehari district hospital where doctors have started his treatment. “The family’s claim that he has lost his memory and is out of his senses is true but this is likely a result of their treatment of him,” Dr Shahnawaz said. “Any man tied up for over 20 years without proper food would lose his mind,” he said.
Sabir’s family insists that they had tied him up for ‘his own good’ and that the neighbourhood allegations are completely false. Police officials have registered a case against the family and are investigating the matter.