A day after the Lahore High Court (LHC) gave 48 hours to the Sialkot district police officer to recover anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan, who is allegedly missing, the city police on Tuesday registered a first information report against “unidentified persons” and police officials for kidnapping the journalist.
After he was arrested on May 11, Imran’s whereabouts have remained unknown for nearly a week now. He was among a number of journalists who were taken into custody following the violent protests that broke out in the aftermath of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest.
Lodged on the complaint of Imran’s father Muhammad Riaz with Civil Lines police, the FIR — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — invokes Section 365 (Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
It stated that the anchorperson was arrested by police officials from the Sialkot airport last week and was later moved to the Sialkot prison.
“At that time, no case was registered against my son and he was taken into custody illegally,” the complaint quoted the anchorperson’s father as saying. Imran was not allowed to meet or contact any family member during this time, it stated.
The FIR said that the next day, the police admitted that it had arrested Imran under Maintenance of Public Order rules — which allows preemptive detentions to ensure law and order.
“They accused Imran of inciting people which is a baseless accusation and said that he will be sent to Sialkot prison as soon as possible,” the complainant claimed.
Subsequently, he continued, a petition was filed in the LHC against Imran’s arrest. The anchorperson’s father recalled that the court had ordered the police to present Imran in court but the DPO had said that the journalist was released after his detention orders were withdrawn.
The FIR pointed out that the judge had subsequently asked the police to submit CCTV footage showing Imran leaving court. “The footage revealed that four to five unidentified men, whose faces were covered, abducted Imran from outside the jail and took him to an undisclosed location in a Vigo.
“From the video, it is clear that the prison officers and police officers were working in collusion and got Imran abducted,” the complainant added.
Imran’s father demanded that a case should be registered against the police officers and all those responsible for his kidnapping and his son should be dispensed justice.
LHC suspends policeman who arrested Imran
A day earlier, while hearing a petition against Imran’s arrest, the LHC had suspended the police officer who had arrested the anchorperson.
Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti issued a show cause notice to the Sialkot station house officer and also warned the DPO of punitive action. The judge observed that the anchorperson was going abroad when he was arrested on the pretext of a threat to law and order.
Justice Bhatti also questioned the legitimacy of the undertaking from a person who wanted to go abroad. “The government wanted the anchorperson to miss his flight only,” he said.
The judge said the DPO made the SHO a scapegoat in the case.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till May 18. The court ordered the DPO to ensure the recovery of the anchorperson and produce him before the court or be ready for the consequences.