(Fixes typos in headline and para 5)
By Asim Tanveer
BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan, June 2 Pakistani police
chopped off the left hands of two men accused of theft after
they refused to confess to stealing electrical wire and mobile
phones, the victims told Reuters on Monday.
The two men, Ghulam Mustafa, 38, and Liaquat Ali, 42, said
that police hacked off their hands with a large butcher's knife
"Four or five policemen held me down and cut my hand. I
fainted from the pain," Mustafa said in hospital in Bahawalpur
in Punjab province.
"I and Liaquat were arrested eight days ago after local
people falsely accused us of stealing and handed us over to the
police who beat us and tortured us. Then on Friday, they did
Police disputed their version of the story, telling Reuters
the men had cut their own hands with razor blades in a suicide
attempt, though it was not immediately clear how they could cut
their hands off.
Medical staff said the men had been brought to the hospital
by two policemen about eight hours after their hands were cut
off. Both had lost a lot of blood.
"This looks like the work of an axe or similar tool. These
are not self-inflicted wounds," Aamir Ahmed, head of the
emergency ward, told Reuters.
He said Mustafa arrived with his hand cut off completely and
that one of the policemen carried it in a plastic bag.
Liaquat's hand had also been cut but was still attached to
his arm, the doctor said. "We have sown Liaquat's hand back on
but it will take weeks before we know if he will ever use it
again," Ahmed said.
Hacking off thieves' hands is consistent with some tenets of
Islamic Sharia law which often holds sway over constitutional
law in parts of rural Pakistan.
The incident comes days after a pregnant woman was killed by
suspected family members for marrying the man she loved in a
story that has drawn condemnation from around the world.
A regional police spokeswoman, Nabeela Ghazanfar, denied the
police had chopped off the hands.
"They were caught stealing and were thrashed by locals but
finally rescued by police and admitted to hospital," Ghazanfar
said. "Mustafa's wife and a couple of other females came to meet
them at hospital and gave them food, clothes and shaving blades.
They used the blades to cut their wrists."
(Writing By Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Additional reporting by
Mubasher Bukhari in Lahore and Mehreen Zahra-Malik in Islamabad;
Editing by Maria Golovnina and Nick Macfie)