PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday regretted poor progress in the cases of enforced disappearances observing the relevant government departments were indifferent to the misery of the families of missing persons.
While observing it could no longer face the relatives of missing persons, who had long been appearing before it for end to their ordeal, a bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Malik Manzoor Hussain said unfortunately, the enforced disappearance cases hadn’t seen noteworthy progress as the defence and interior ministries had always given stereotyped replies and explanations about them.
Moving scenes were witnessed in the courtroom when the relatives of missing persons began narrating their sufferings one after another.
Observes relevant depts indifferent to misery of families, giving stereotyped explanations
The bench asked the representatives of the defence and interior ministries and provincial home department in attendance to see the misery of petitioners.
The chief justice observed that in certain cases, the court had long been seeking replies from the relevant authorities in such cases but they had yet to comply with instructions.
He observed that the court had repeatedly asked the government departments to free all detainees, who were innocent, and send cases of those against whom evidence of involvement in terrorist activities was available, to the relevant courts.
Elder woman, Payo Jana, told the court that her son, Tahir, was taken into custody by security forces in Kohat over two years ago and since then, he had been missing.
Constantly sobbing, she said her son had little children, while his wife was very ill.
The burqa-clad woman, who carried a minor son of the missing man, said the family was extremely poor and that it had already spent a lot of money on the treatment of his daughter-in-law.
She asked judges where she would get money for treatment.
The chief justice observed that the court was the last hope for families of missing persons and that they would lose that hope if the court failed to provide them with relief.
The bench directed the representatives of the federal and provincial government to produce information about the woman’s missing son before Sept 2, the next date of hearing.
In another case, the bench summoned eight members of a peace committee of Matta tehsil, Swat for allegedly handing over a person to security forces before his enforced disappearance.
The security forces had wanted the alleged detainee, Ameer Khatam.
In another case about Elite Force DSP Shahnawaz Khan allegedly taking away a man, the bench ordered the police to ensure the recording of the petitioner’s statement before a judicial magistrate.
Mian Abdul Fayyaz, lawyer for the police, said the said DSP didn’t turn up as the home department had formally asked him to restrict his movement due to threat to his life.
Petitioner Haji Fazal Khan said his son was taken into custody by a police team headed by Shahnawaz Khan a few months ago and that he had been missing since then.
Also, the bench ordered the defence and interior ministries and provincial home department to give detailed replies in 11 new cases of enforced disappearances.
Meanwhile, it sought explanation from the political agent of Kurram Agency in an illegal detention case.
Humaira claimed her son, 14, was illegally detained in the Bannu prison.
Her lawyer, Taimoor Khan, said intelligence agencies had picked up the boy, Faridullah Khan, in July 2011 and handed over to the administration of Kurram Agency.
He said the boy was detained under the FCR for two years in an unidentified case but even after completion of prison term, the political agent had not been ordering his release.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2014