DNA of kin collected to identify boat tragedy victims

Published June 21, 2023
Khuiratta (AJK): Raja Mohammad Aslam, 55, holds a photo of his 26-year-old son Sajid, who is among those missing after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Greece, as he sits with his younger son for their DNA sampling at the district hospital, on Tuesday.—Reuters
Khuiratta (AJK): Raja Mohammad Aslam, 55, holds a photo of his 26-year-old son Sajid, who is among those missing after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Greece, as he sits with his younger son for their DNA sampling at the district hospital, on Tuesday.—Reuters

GUJRAT: Desperate to learn about the fate of their relatives and friends, family members of those feared to be on the boat that capsized off southern Greece, queued on Tuesday for DNA testing in Gujrat and Azad Kashmir.

FIA officials have claimed that 22 agents suspected to have sent the victims on the illegal journey have been arrested as Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah vowed strict action against their traffickers.

Officials had requested the parents and children of the victims for DNA samples to identify the dead bodies recovered from the sea. So far, 81 have been confirmed dead, while 104 were rescued.

The victims’ close kins reached the FIA office in Gujrat on Tuesday. A team of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) collected their samples. The reports will be sent to the Pakistan Embassy in Greece.

FIA claims 22 ‘traffickers’ arrested; Sana assures of strict action

In the Khuiratta area of Azad Kashmir’s Kotli District, the relatives stood outside a hospital to submit samples, according to Reuters.

Grim accounts

Women, elders, youth and children, encumbered by the grief of their loved ones’ uncertain fate, stood in lines, awaiting their samples to be taken.

A 30-year-old man from Noor Jamal village near Gujrat’s Dinga town was also in the queue outside the FIA office with his five-year-old nephew, whose father, he said, had been missing.

He told Dawn that at least 11 people from his village, who left Pakistan more than a month ago to reach Italy, were missing.

Muhammad Yasin borrowed almost Rs2.3 million to reach Europe “for a better life”, his brother Muhammad Ayub told Reuters in Khuiratta as he sat with his two nephews aged one and three waiting for their DNA samples to be taken.

More ‘traffickers’ arrested

FIA officials on Tuesday claimed the arrest of at least eight alleged traffickers from Lahore, Burewala, Mandi Bahauddin and Wazirabad areas of Punjab.

According to the FIA, one suspect, identified as Abid Hussain was arrested during a raid on his whereabouts in Lahore. His son Talha Shahzeb was already in custody. The suspense had received Rs3.5 million from the family of a victim, according to FIA.

In another raid in Burewala, a joint team of FIA and Punjab police arrested an alleged human trafficker Mumtaz Arain. Meanwhile, Gujrat FIA acting deputy director Mian Ajmal told Dawn that at least six human traffickers have been arrested from Mandi Bahauddin and Wazirabad.

He said the arrested traffickers were presented before an area magistrate in Gujrat who handed them over to FIA on physical remand.

Sanaullah assures action

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday said an investigation report into the boat tragedy would be submitted within a week and all those involved will be strictly dealt with, APP reported.

After the tragedy, a committee was constituted by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to ascertain facts and identify loopholes and lapses in the legal mechanism that exposed the citizens to the vagaries of human trafficking, Mr Sanaullah said while talking to a private news channel.

The government will also review short-term and long-term legislation to curb illegal trafficking, he said.

Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2023

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