The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed police on Saturday to recover and present anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan — whose whereabouts remain unknown since his arrest at the Sialkot airport on May 11 — before the court by Monday (May 22).

Imran was among those taken into custody following protests that broke out in the aftermath of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest.

Later, his lawyer told Dawn.com that a writ petition was filed on May 12 over the anchorperson’s arrest and the LHC directed the attorney general to present him before the court the same day. But, after its orders were not followed, Sialkot police on Monday were given a 48-hour deadline to recover Riaz.

A first information report (FIR) pertaining to the matter was registered with Civil Lines police the next day on the complaint of the anchorperson’s father, Muhammad Riaz.

The FIR was registered against “unidentified persons” and police officials for allegedly kidnapping Riaz, invoking Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The hearing

LHC Chief Justice (CJ) Muhammad Ameer Bhatti presided over the proceedings of the writ petition filed over Imran’s arrest today, to whom Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr Usman Anwar presented a report on the progress of the anchorperson’s recovery.

“It is being said that a police vehicle was used in Imran Riaz’s abduction, but this is false,” the IG claimed, adding, “No police vehicle has any connection with Imran Riaz’s kidnapping.”

At that, the LHC CJ asked, “How can you say there is no connection?”

The IG replied that CCTV footage showed that the police vehicle spotted at the site of Imran’s arrest was not there when he was taken away.

He further told the court that the interior ministry had been approached for help in the case, adding that geofencing was being carried out to identify people who took away Imran.

“It is being said that Imran Riaz was taken forcibly, but it doesn’t seem so,” the IG said.

Following that, the LHC CJ directed that the CCTV recording be played in the court.

Imran’s lawyer, Azhar Siddique, presented his arguments after that, saying that his client was first surrounded from all sides and then taken away in a vehicle.

During his arguments, Justice Bhatti enquired from the IG about security arrangements outside the jail — from where Imran was shown being taken away in CCTV footage played at the last hearing.

The IG told the court that usually there were no security arrangements outside the jail. “We make security arrangements outside the jail if the need is felt.”

On this, Siddique said, “The jail IG says their duties are limited to within the prison.”

He further said a raid was initially conducted at Imran’s residence in Lahore for his arrest, adding that “police’s ill intentions are now out in the open”.

The LHC CJ then addressed police, saying, “You first conducted a raid at Imran Riaz’s house and then arrested him in Sialkot.

“Submit a written reply to the court, explaining why you conducted a raid at Imran’s house.”

He directed police to recover and present Imran before the court by Monday in any case.

“Previously, you used to ask for [more] time. I am now giving you time,” he said, adjourning the hearing till Monday.

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