KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday filed an interim charge sheet against social worker Sarim Burney in a case pertaining to “child trafficking by way of illegal adoption”.

The charge sheet included the statements of three prosecution witnesses.

The investigating officer of the case, Sub-Inspector Bilal Ahmed, filed charges of trafficking, cheating, forgery using a forged document as genuine, abetment, and criminal conspiracy against Mr Burney, Basalat Ali Khan and Humaira Naz alias Huma in the interim report before a judicial magistrate.

The IO requested more time to submit the final charge sheet, citing the need to trace and arrest absconding suspects and to gather relevant records related to a baby girl and six other babies for whom the US Embassy in Islamabad issued adoption visas over the past five years.

Sarim Burney Welfare Trust International is not registered with Sindh Child Protection Authority, IO tells magistrate

Referring to the statement of prosecution witness Afsheen, recorded under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code, the IO noted that Afsheen claimed that Mr Burney knew she was the biological mother of a baby girl, whom she gave to Bushra through Madiha for payment.

She alleged that Mr Burney handed over the baby girl’s custody to a US national without her consent and knowledge.

The IO cited a letter from the Sindh Child Protection Authority, confirming that the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust International was not registered with them.

However, the orphanage — Sarim Burney Home for Homeless — was registered under the Sindh Darul Atfal (Supervision and Control) Act, 1976, which falls under the administrative control of the Social Welfare Department.

The IO also stated that before the family court, the suspects ‘knowingly and wilfully’ concealed facts, deliberately changed the names of three babies, and did not mention the names of their biological parents. Regarding the affidavit of Bushra and Ayaz, the IO noted that despite repeated reminders, the trust did not provide the affidavit related to the baby girl.

The IO placed the names of Basalat Ali Khan and Humaira Naz in Column No 2 of the charge sheet with red ink as they had not been arrested.

Mr Burney was arrested when he returned Karachi from the US earlier this month.

A case was registered against him and others under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly, inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document), 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Sections 3 (trafficking in persons), 4 (aggravating circumstances) and 5 (abetment and criminal conspiracy) of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2024

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