IHC wants ‘missing’ govt official recovered by tomorrow

Updated 06 Sep 2020

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IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah warned that act­ion would be taken against the interior secretary, the chief commissioner and the insp­ector general of Islam­abad if they failed to trace the whereabouts of Mr Gondal. — Photo courtesy Twitter/File
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah warned that act­ion would be taken against the interior secretary, the chief commissioner and the insp­ector general of Islam­abad if they failed to trace the whereabouts of Mr Gondal. — Photo courtesy Twitter/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Saturday expressed concern over a rise in cases of enforced disappearances in Islamabad and ordered the production in court of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) joint director Sajid Gondal, who went missing on Thursday night.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah warned that act­ion would be taken against the interior secretary, the chief commissioner and the insp­ector general of Islam­abad if they failed to trace the whereabouts of Mr Gondal.

Justice Minallah was hea­ring a habeas corpus petition filed by Asmat Begum, Mr Gondal’s mother.

Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, counsel for the petitioner, told the court that some unidentified persons allegedly kidnapped the SECP official from the Shahzad Town area of the capital on Thursday at about 9pm.

He said that the kidnappers left Mr Gondal’s official car outside the National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) on Park Road, which was recovered by police on Friday.

“The recent increase in cases of abduction within the fourteen hundred square miles area of the Islamabad Capital Territory is alarming and raises questions regarding fundamental rights of the citizens and the state of governance” Chief Justice Minallah observed.

He said that the federal government was responsible for ensuring effective enforcement of law and maintenance of law and order in the capital and directed the government and the law enforcing agencies to produce Mr Gondal or inform the court about his status in the next hearing.

The court warned that in case the responsible public functionaries failed to produce Mr Gondal before the court on Monday at 2pm, the interior secretary and the chief commissioner and the inspector general of Islamabad would appear in person in court to explain why they might not be proceeded against for their inability and failure on part of the federal government and the administration of the Islamabad Capital Territory to protect citizens from harm.

The court said that impunity in case of alleged abductions and failure of the state in protecting citizens against this crime was intolerable. “The recent increase in alleged abductions raises serious questions regarding enforcement of fundamental rights of the citizens in the Capital of Pakistan,” it noted.

Justice Minallah recalled that in the case of a missing engineer, the court on July 11, 2018 had passed a judgement in which it had fixed responsibility on certain officials and organs of the state for not protecting the citizens against abduction.

The court issued notices to the above-mentioned officials and ordered that a copy of the order be sent to the secretary of the cabinet division. The latter would place copy of this order before the federal cabinet in its next meeting if the responsible officials are unable to either produce the SECP official or fail to trace his whereabouts.

Two probe teams formed

Meanwhile, the capital police constituted two special investigation teams (SITs) to trace whereabouts of the missing SECP official, police stated.

A senior police official told Dawn that Deputy Inspector General (operation) Waqar Uddin Syed would supervise the investigation to be conducted by the SITs headed by Superintendent of Police (investigation) Malik Naeem and SP (rural) Farooq Amjad.

Both the teams would start investigation soon, the official said, adding that the team headed by SP Malik would work on technical aspects, including geo-fencing of the area from where Mr Gondal went missing and collection and examination of the footages of CCTVs installed around the area and cameras of Safe City Project on the roads.

The call record of the missing official would also be examined to check who contacted him during the last few days and weeks.

The team headed by SP Amjad will investigate by collecting information with the assistance of human intelligence, the official said. It would also check all routs around the area from where Mr Gondal went missing.

Close contacts of the SECP official, including friends and colleagues, would also be approached to seek information about him.

Earlier, the Shahzad Town police registered a case over the disappearance of the official under section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code (kidnapping with the intent of wrongfully confine a person) on the complaint lodged by his wife.

The FIR stated that Mr Gondal left his house on Thursday at around 7:30pm in his official car but did not return. Later his car was found parked at Chak Shahzad Town road near the PARC but he was missing from there, the FIR stated, adding that his mobile phone was found switched off since then.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2020