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ISLAMABAD: Police on Monday registered an FIR over the disappearance of Samar Abbas, the second activist to disappear from the federal capital this month, but there is still no news of academic Salman Haider, who has now been missing for over 10 days.

Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman, who had been summoned to brief the Senate on the progress of investigations into the five enforced disappearances in Punjab and Islamabad, told the house that he had no good news to share.

He said that the family of Mr Abbas had lodged an application with Ramna police station on Jan 14 and an FIR was registered on Jan 15.

According to the minister, Mr Abbas came to Islamabad from Karachi on Jan 3 and last made contact with his family via SMS on the night between Jan 7 and 8. He said the location of the cellular phone at that time had been traced to be Sector G-11/3, adding that this is the probable location where he disappeared from.

The minister said that investigations into the four earlier disappearances, including that of Salman Haider, were continuing. He said that their phone records had been examined, but no headway had been made in the investigations so far.

“This is very frightening state of affairs if no progress has been made so far. If there are some charges against them, let them be proceeded against under the law,” Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani remarked.

Baleeghur Rehman tells Senate no progress as yet; Salman Haider’s family moves NCHR

Mr Rahman told the house that efforts were being made, but no clues had yet been found. He said that two witnesses had recorded their statements, claiming that the men who picked up Samar Abbas were attired in police uniform. However, he maintained, no policeman was involved in the incident.

The Senate chairman said the matter had been referred to the Human Rights Committee of the Senate, which also met on Monday.

However, the Islamabad inspector general did not attend the meeting and Mr Rabbani told the house that the police had conveyed that it could not be represented at the forum in the absence of the Interior ministry’s directions and instructed the state minister to direct them to appear on notice from the committee.

Case registered

The FIR of Samar Abbas’ disappearance has been registered under section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which deals with “kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person”, on the basis of the complaint lodged by the victim’s brother Syed Ashar Abbas.

“I have tried to contact all of his friends in Islamabad and Karachi, but no one has any clue about his whereabouts,” the FIR quoted his brother as saying.

According to Ashar Abbas, his brother owned an information technology business and recently started to import and export rice.

He said Samar was a social activist and participated in welfare works, including the recently ‘Clean Karachi’ campaign.

NCHR petitioned

Meanwhile on Monday, the family of Salman Haider filed an application with the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR), asking it to take notice of a campaign launched to harass the families of the abducted men.

NCHR Chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan told Dawn he had already taken suo motu notice of the matter and directed the Ministry of Interior to inquire about the missing persons and inform the commission.

“The families should also tell us who we should write to for clarification,” he suggested.

On Monday, Mr Chohan was also present at a meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights. However, the issue of the five missing activists could not be taken up due to the absence of the Islamabad inspector general.

In the application to NCHR, Salman’s brother Zeeshan Haider has stated that though an FIR concerning his brother’s disappearance has been lodged at the Loi Bher police station, “a concerted campaign to malign Salman Haider... has been initiated by certain quarters.”

Referring to allegations that Mr Haider operated a Facebook page that carried objectionable material and comments, the application said: “This accusation is completely false, baseless and fabricated simply to put pressure on the victim’s family, who are tying their utmost to learn of their loved one’s well-being.”

“We pray that NCHR, in its remit as the country’s human rights watchdog, should direct law enforcement agencies to take action against those levelling unsubstantiated and false allegations against Salman Haider and his family, which are tantamount to hate speech and incitement to violence against the victim,” the application concluded.

Published in Dawn January 17th, 2017