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Bugti's funeral held in absence of relatives

Bugti's body, which was found pinned under a boulder inside his hideout, was dug out on Thursday night.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 18:27 IST

The decomposed body of slain Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was on Friday buried by Pakistani authorities in his native Dera Bugti town in the absence of his relatives and fellow tribesmen.

The body was brought in a sealed coffin and no one was allowed to see the body.

Deputy Commissioner of Dera Bugti, Abdul Samad Lassi told Geo TV that family members had been asked to come to the funeral but no one turned up.

Some tribesmen from the rival ranks of Bugti's tribe and officials attended the funeral. An Islamic cleric brought in by the government conducted the funeral prayers.

Bugti's sons and relatives demanded the body be handed over to them but the government has declined to do so.

Earlier Bugti's body was retrieved from the cave in which he was killed in a military action on August 26 and brought to a burial ground of the Dera Bugti by helicopter.

As soon as it arrived, the funeral prayers were conducted and the body was buried.

Besides the officials, security personnel and a small group of tribesmen the brief ceremony was witnessed by a group of media personnel taken by the Pakistan government from Quetta.

The burial took place amid a nationwide strike called by opposition parties to protest Bugti's killing.

Bugti's son-in-law Agha Shahid Bugti said the family had asked the government to hand over the tribal leader's body for burial.

"It is inhuman and unacceptable. It is even un-Islamic to bury a person against the will of his family," he said before the funeral took place.

He said it was only their right to decide a burial place for him. "Since our contact with the government, we have been insisting that the body should be handed to us, but now we have been told that the body has been taken to Dera Bugti.

No one from our family will go to Dera Bugti to attend the burial. We still say that the body should be given to us," he said.

"Since Bugti's two sons -- Talal Akbar Bugti and Jamil Akbar Bugti -- are alive and present in Quetta, why should his body be handed to his opponents," he asked.

Jamil Bugti said he was not sure "if the body the government was planning to bury in Dera Bugti was that of his father's".

Pakistan's Defence Spoeksman, Maj Gen Sultan, who announced the retrieval of Bugti's body to the media here late last night, said the body was pinned under a boulder in the cave which collapsed following an unexplained explosion during the military operation.

"We can say in medical terms that the body is in an advanced stage of decay. The body, which was badly crushed, has been examined by doctors," he was quoted as saying in the media on Friday.

Meanwhile, Jamhoori Watan Party secretary-general Agha Shahid Bugti said it was a widely held view in Balochistan that Nawab Bugti had died following a bitter shootout with military personnel in the open.

"And our suspicion is fuelled by the reluctance of the government to hand over the body of Nawab Bugti to his heirs.

They fear that we will be able to find out exactly how they killed Nawab Bugti," said Bugti, who is son-in-law of the slain tribal chief.

Army officials said four more bodies had been retrieved from the rubble. "But they have been in a state beyond recognition. Doctors examined the body of Nawab Bugti before it was sent to Dera Bugti," they said.

Dera Bugti District Coordination Officer Abdus Samad Lasi said he did not expect a public funeral because of a decision by a jirga of Bugti's opponents not to allow more than two members of the bereaved family to attend the funeral.