Families of ‘missing persons’ narrate ordeal at protest sit-in

Published April 3, 2021
Family members of missing persons protest outside the Mehfil Shah-i-Khorasan mosque on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
Family members of missing persons protest outside the Mehfil Shah-i-Khorasan mosque on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: There were women and little children holding up pictures of their missing loved ones. Someone was missing a son, someone a husband, someone a brother, someone a father, which compelled all of them to come out in the scorching afternoon heat to hold a sit-in at Mehfil Shah-i-Khorasan, off Numaish Chowrangi, and near the Mazar-i-Quaid under the auspices of the Joint Action Committee for Shia Missing Persons here on Friday.

Zaheera from Gulistan-i-Jauhar said that her 22-year-old son, Wahid Hussain, went missing on March 21, 2018. “My son had applied to the army and had even cleared all their tests. While he waited for his letter to come from there he was driving a loading pickup truck to earn some money and supplement the household income. He went missing along with the pickup truck. The truck was recovered three months later but not my son. Two days ago completed three full years of his going missing,” she said.

The protest will continue till the recovery of the victims of ‘enforced disappearance’

Farhat Fatima said that her son Syed Ibad-ul-Hasan Rizvi went missing in 2017. “He worked with a bank here. We only know that he was picked up by [a law-enforcement agency]. We have not heard from him since. This is his five-year-old son,” she said, gesturing to a little child sitting in front of her holding his father’s photograph before him. “When his father went missing, my grandson was only one year old,” she said sadly.

Shamim Bano said that her brother Azhar Hussain went missing on July 21, 2017. “He also is said to have been picked by [an LEA] from Golimar,” she said.

Sit-in to continue ‘indefinitely’

Meanwhile, the families of the missing persons said that their sit-in will continue till the recovery of their people. It was said that the authorities, including the president of Pakistan, have repeatedly assured them regarding the missing persons’ recovery but none have kept their promise.

Also present at the protest were leaders Allama Ahmad Iqbal Rizvi, Maulana Haider Abbas, Maulana Aqeel Musa, Allama Mukhtar Emami, Allama Mubashir Hassan and others from the Joint Action Committee for Missing Persons.

They said that if the missing persons were involved in any crime, they should be brought before the courts. They should not be taken away like this with their families not even knowing whether they were dead or alive. While they were missing many of these men had even lost their mother, father or even both of their parents in some cases, they added.

As the media was turning to leave, one young boy chased after them to request them to find his father. Jafar said that he was only 12 years old but he was very hopeful that his father, Azhar Abbas, a computer operator with the Karachi Port Trust, and who went missing two months ago, will come back home one day.

Had the men of all these families been around, they would have never let their women and children run from pillar to post like this.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2021

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