KARACHI: Relatives of ‘missing persons’ called off their sit-in outside the private residence of President Dr Arif Alvi in Mohammed Ali Society here on Friday after two weeks as authorities engaged them in talks, leading to release of four more ‘victims of enforced disappearance’, according to the organisers of the protest.

Rashid Rizvi, the head of the Missing Persons’ Relatives’ Committee, told Dawn that they had called off their sit-in after successful talks with the authorities concerned.

He said that four ‘missing persons’ were released on Friday and their custody was handed over to Malir police for further legal action. These persons have been missing for a considerable period of time.

Another eight are likely to be freed soon, says protest chief organiser

Mr Rizvi hoped that another eight ‘missing persons’ would be released soon after verification.

He said that so far 27 people, who had been missing for a couple of months, had been released because of the sit-in.

Meanwhile, Deputy Inspector General, Karachi east zone, Amir Farooqi, confirmed that the sit-in outside the president’s residence had ended after the authorities held talks with the organisers of the protest.

“The protesters have called off the sit-in ‘unconditionally’ after negotiations,” he claimed.

Official sources privy to the matter told Dawn that after resurgence of sectarian killings in Karachi for the last three months, law enforcement agencies launched a crackdown on members of alleged sectarian outfits.

The sources said that between 20 and 22 persons were taken away from different parts of the metropolis, but since these persons were ‘randomly’ picked up, some ‘mistakes’ were made in the process.

They said that some of these persons were released after an inquiry, while others were shown as arrested by Malir police and the Counter-Terrorism Department as there was ‘evidence’ about their alleged involvement in targeted killings.

The sources said that the ‘lengthy verification process’ about missing persons was under way when the sit-in outside the president’s residence started.

Initially, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, federal minister Ali Zaidi and others had held talks with the organisers of the protest, but the negotiations did not yield any positive result and the sit-in continued.

On Tuesday, Bahadurabad police, within whose jurisdiction the sit-in had been staged, registered an FIR against 250 to 300 protesters, including five nominated persons, on a host of charges ranging from riots to waging war against the country.

The next day, police arrested several persons when they came to the venue of the sit-in to participate in it. As many as 17 detained persons were released after captivity of 12 hours on Thursday.

The sources told Dawn that they were released after the authorities obtained assurance from them that the sit-in would be called off.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2019