Mohammad Taha
Mohammad Taha

ISLAMABAD: A teenager who had gone missing on a Margalla Hills trail on Saturday prompting a search by his family and the police was found dead in one of the ravines by the staff of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board on Monday.

Mohammad Taha, 15, and his friends went to Trail-5 for a hiking trip on Saturday but did not return home. According to the police, the body was found in a “ditch” between Pir Sohawa and Bari Imam on Monday. According to the FIR, Talha along with his classmates/friends left for Trail-5 Margalla Hills from his house for hiking planned on Saturday. At about 5pm, one of his friends called his mother and inquired about whether Talha had returned home. Later, his mother came over to the Trail-5 to search for her missing son and also reported the matter to Rescue 15, it said. In response, police reached there and conducted the search till late at night, but remained unsuccessful.

Police spokesperson Taqi Jawad confirmed that the body was found by the wildlife staff.

Police officials said the wildlife staffers informed the police after they spotted the body in the ravine, which was later retrieved by the rescue workers and the police with the help of a stretcher after hours-long efforts. The body had started to decompose and moved to a hospital for autopsy.

Sources claimed that the “non-professional attitude” of the police station concerned caused the delay in the recovery of the teenager. They said the mother of the deceased informed the police on Saturday evening about her missing boy but the police “failed to take the matter seriously and did not even issue an e-tag for the complaint”. Likewise, they did not register the incident in the daily diary.

According to SOPs, an e-tag is issued for every complaint whether received through the helpline or an in-person application. Sources said that according to the law, every complaint, written or verbal, is required to be registered in the ‘daily diary’.

But the police issued the e-tag for the complaint on Sunday afternoon only after the woman lodged a written complaint about the disappearance of her son. They disclosed that a police team also reached the hills on Saturday evening but returned after completing the “formalities”.

According to police officials, the mother of the boy mentioned a call from one of his friends who had asked her whether the teenager had reached home from the trail. “This one line should have been enough for a professional police officer to solve the case, but no one took it seriously or inquired about the matter from the groups of friends who had accompanied Talha at the trail,” they added. The FIR was registered on Sunday afternoon.

In response to a question about the delay in the registration of the case, the police spokesperson said the FIR was registered after the written complaint of the woman on Sunday.

Though the spokesperson confirmed that an e-tag was generated for every complaint received at the police helpline, he contradicted himself saying in the instant case the e-tag was not issued because the matter was reported to the helpline.

He said the police had been interrogating the friends who accompanied Talha since Sunday. He said the friends gave a “random” statement about the incident, saying that one of them had hurt himself and they were searching for him, while Talha left the group saying “he was going down the hill”.

The incident also put the spotlight on the 60-strong patrolling squad recently re-launched by the police to protect visitors on the trails of Margalla Hills. This unit comprises foot, motorcycle and mounted personnel.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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