Police produce ‘missing’ person before court as IHC orders detailed probe into disappearances

Published September 14, 2022
<p>Islamabad police personnel are seen along with Haseeb Hamza, who reportedly went missing in August, outside the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday. — Photo by Tahir Naseer</p>

Islamabad police personnel are seen along with Haseeb Hamza, who reportedly went missing in August, outside the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday. — Photo by Tahir Naseer

The Islamabad police on Wednesday recovered Haseeb Hamza, a 27-year-old farmer who had reportedly gone “missing” in August, and presented him before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The development comes a day after IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing a petition for Hamza’s recovery, instructed the police to present him before the court by 10am today.

“If that doesn’t happen, then we will call each and every [officer] and take action against them,” he had said, adding that the Military Intelligence (MI), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) all would be made to appear before the court to give an explanation for the “state’s failure”.

An hour before the IHC deadline was set to expire, Islamabad Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Dr Akbar Nasir Khan appeared in the court along with Hamza.

The hearing

During the hearing today, Justice Minallah asked Haseeb where he had been, to which he replied that he was blindfolded at the time he was taken and had no knowledge of where he was.

The chief justice then asked police personnel about the inquiry the IG had conducted. The police replied that they were investigating the delay in registering the initial case as well as the disappearance.

Elaborating on other missing person cases, the police said that some people had been recovered while other cases were still under way.

Here, the IHC CJ stressed that the state had a constitutional responsibility to ensure the protection of citizens. “But no one is fulfilling their responsibility and accountability was also not ensured.”

He maintained that on August 23, Haseeb’s father went to the station housing officer (SHO) but the first informant report (FIR) was only filed after the court took notice.

“Has the court ever stopped you from taking action against someone who has committed a crime?” Justice Minallah asked, emphasising that the police must act according to the law.

He highlighted that even today people were missing. To this, the advocate general replied that there were some shortcomings in the system and that a full investigation would be conducted.

The advocate general further said that the IG had been instructed to take immediate action if someone went to the police.

The IHC CJ said that the system did not have any defects, rather there was no accountability or responsibility, adding that the court could do nothing except uphold the Constitution and the law.

The AG said that he would hold a meeting, but Justice Minallah contended that the court did not want to know about meetings.

Subsequently, the court instructed the Islamabad IG to personally supervise the investigation of Haseeb’s case and submit a report to the registrar of the high court by September 22.

“This court depends on you and cannot conduct inquiries itself,” Justice Minallah said. The AG responded that he would perform his duty.

“Those responsible for the missing and neglect of the youth should be determined,” Justice Minallah added.

The court maintained that in light of past orders, the authorities should punish those who do not fulfil their responsibilities, the court said as it disposed of the petition.

The case

In the petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, petitioner Zulfiqar Ali said his 27-year-old son Hamza was a farmer and had been working in Layyah.

The federation of Pakistan through the defence ministry secretary, the MI director general and the interior ministry were named the respondents in the case.

At midnight of August 22 and 23, around 20 persons — 15 of whom were in black uniform — raided the petitioner’s house without any search warrant, the plea said.

During the search, they apprehended the petitioner’s son, and seized several items, including five laptops, six cellphones and some documents.

“The circumstances suggest that the detenu is a victim of state-enforced disappearance. The petitioner ran from pillar to post for the search of his son, however, no information [was] received from any corner of state organs,” the petition said.

The petition urged the court to direct the respondents to produce the detenu before the court. It also asked the court to identify and investigate those responsible, directly or indirectly, for abducting and illegally detaining the detenu while also prosecuting those responsible.

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