PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has taken exception to the “growing incidence of enforced disappearances” in the province, especially by the police and counter-terrorism department, and ordered chief minister Ali Amin Gandapur to appear before it on July 22 to report on the measures taken by his government to address the issue.

The order came from Chief Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim during the hearing into a habeas corpus petition by resident Hazrat Nabi against the “illegal detention” of his brother, Abdul Said. The petitioner also accused the police of demanding a ransom of Rs7 million for the release of the detainee.

Advocate Malik Sarfaraz Khan appeared for the petitioner and insisted that on June 10 2024, Abdul Said was apprehended by the station house officer of the Zaida police station in Swabi district from Gulberg Super Market in Peshawar though he wasn’t involved in any criminal case.

Asks chief minister about steps taken to address issue

He added that the detainee was in the illegal custody of the SHO, who demanded Rs7 million from the petitioner as “ransom” to free the detainee.

The lawyer requested the court to issue orders to the provincial inspector general of police and other relevant police officers to produce the detainee before it.

He contended that the detainee was a law-abiding citizen, whose illegal detention was against the constitutional provisions guaranteeing his fundamental rights.

“Unfortunately, not only in this case but in so many other cases, this court has noted that on one hand cases of ‘missing persons’ are alarmingly increasing day by day, particularly in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but on the other, the aggrieved parties are levelling allegations of such disappearances against the police officials, including those of the CTD, and that for the release of such missing person(s), the police officials and CTD officials are demanding a huge ransom from the family members of the missing person(s),” the bench observed.

It declared that the examination of the “flow of the cases of missing persons, particularly allegations against the police and CTD,” the court was left with no option but to summon the chief minister to give details of the steps taken by his government for checking enforced disappearances.

Scores of cases of “enforced disappearances” are pending with the high court with families accusing law-enforcement agencies of taking away their members and not revealing their whereabouts.

In one case, the disappearance of four brothers of a leading business family here was challenged in the court.

A female member of the family claimed that her brothers — Mohammad Nasir Alkozai, Usman Alkozai, Abdul Waris Alkozai and Zahir Alkozai — were kidnapped from their house in Peshawar’s Hayatabad Township on Feb 28 by people wearing police uniforms. She also produced CCTV footage of the “kidnapping” in the court.

While the petition is pending with the high court, the police have expressed ignorance about the incident.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2024

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