‘Missing’ SECP official’s mother moves IHC

Updated 05 Sep 2020

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SECP joint director Sajid Gondal went missing from the federal capital on Thursday night.<br />
— Photo courtesy Twitter/File
SECP joint director Sajid Gondal went missing from the federal capital on Thursday night.
— Photo courtesy Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The mother of a missing senior official of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has approached the Islamabad High Court, seeking recovery of her son from ‘unknown’ abductors.

SECP joint director Sajid Gondal went missing from the federal capital on Thursday night.

His mother Asmat Bibi filed a habeas corpus petition in the IHC on Friday. The petition is likely to be taken up by the court on Saturday.

The petitioner contended that she is an old lady and a respectable citizen of Pakistan, adding that her son had attended the office on Sept 3 and returned home in the evening. At about 7.30pm, Gondal went out of his home situated at Shahzad Town, Islamabad, on his official vehicle bearing registration No GAE 496, but never came back. His car was found parked on Main Park Road, near National Agriculture Research Centre office, Islamabad.

The petition said Gondal’s whereabouts were not known even after the passage of two days and the petitioner being a poor person was moving from pillar to post in search of her son. It said the petitioner along with another relative visited the police station and approached the station house officer (SHO) of the Shahzad Town police station, but police authorities were reluctant to give any clue about her missing son.

“The petitioner is clueless what to do and helpless due to her inability to find out her son,” the petition said, adding that the petitioner wanted to bring the matter to the notice of this court through this writ petition seeking to protect her fundamental rights.

The petitioner expressed apprehensions that her son may be put to mental and physical torture as his whereabouts are unknown and his life is also in danger.

According to the petition, the missing person [Sajid Gondal] is a government servant and there are chances that he has been picked up by unknown persons in connection with his official duties.

The petitioner regretted that police had failed to perform their duty and seemed to be reluctant to make serious efforts for the recovery of her son. “Abduction is against the fundamental and constitutional rights of the petitioner as guaranteed under Articles 4, 9 and 10-A of the Constitution,” the petition asserted.

The petitioner requested the court to summon the respondents namely secretaries of defence and interior, inspector general of police and Shahzad Town SHO in person and direct them to produce her missing son before the court. She also sought a directive for the interior secretary to take action against those who failed to protect the life and dignity of citizens.

Immediate recovery demanded

Rights bodies and politicians, including the human rights minister, have expressed concern over the disappearance of SECP official Sajid Gondal.

The SECP has officially acknowledged that Gondal has been missing since Thursday evening and said that “as an institution, the SECP expresses its solidarity with his family, and is providing complete assistance to the family in this moment”. SECP officials and their team of lawyers also visited Gondal’s house.

Gondal’s wife has lodged a complaint with the Shahzad Town police station, expressing suspicion that her husband has been “kidnapped by unidentified persons”. She urged the police to ensure his recovery, saying the family had no enmity with anyone.

However, no FIR has so far been registered.

Police officials visited Gondal’s house on Friday to gather information and told the family that after examining his car it was found that there were no finger prints on it which were possibly washed off due to heavy rains on Friday morning.

Since Gondal was a former journalist, a large number of media persons too have expressed concern over his disappearance, and ‘BringBackSajidGondal’ was the top trend on Twitter in Pakistan.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari has taken notice of the incident and said in a tweet that police had been directed to register an FIR. “Protection of each citizen’s life is our constitutional obligation. Rule of law must prevail — all must be dealt with according to the law,” she tweeted.

Amnesty International also expressed concern over the incident and urged the authorities to “establish Gondal’s whereabouts immediately”. “Sajid Gondal, a former journalist and an official with the SECP, is missing and feared to have been disappeared. We call upon the authorities to establish his whereabouts immediately,” it tweeted.

PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal described Gondal’s disappearance as “disturbing news” and urged the government to “immediately take all necessary steps to ensure his safe recovery”. “Such acts bring bad name to Pakistan,” Iqbal said in a tweet.

Kalbe Ali also contributed to this story

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2020