PESHAWAR, June 26: The Peshawar High Court was informed on Tuesday that around 1,035 detainees had been freed by security forces over a couple of months on the court orders, while another 895 had been shifted to notified internment centres in Malakand region.
Also, the provincial government produced lists of those detainees, saying several missing persons were among the freed ones.
Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mian Fasihul Mulk later disposed of 21 habeas corpus petitions in light of the release of the relevant missing persons but adjourned hearing into around 150 such petitions to July 11, saying they’ll study the lists to locate missing persons on them.
Amid touching scenes with hundreds of relatives of missing persons led by Defence of Human Rights chairwoman Amina Masood Janjua visiting the court, the bench began hearing into habeas corpus petitions.
The Courtroom No I was filled to capacity, so the staff placed extra wooden benches for visitors, lawyers and government officials.
Despite scorching heat, people, including women and children, turned up in large numbers and stayed put throughout the day remained. Almost all of them were holding pictures of their missing relatives and placards inscribed with calls for their early release.
Special secretary of provincial home department Alamgir Shah produced a list of around 1,035 people, saying they had been released by security forces on the court orders over the last couple of months in Malakand region, including Swat. He said these people included those who were kept at reformation centres in Malakand.
Later, the office of the Peshawar capital city police chief produced a list of 11 detainees freed recently.
The bench observed that a third list was also produced about detainees, who had been notified as having committed crimes of different nature and shifted to notified internment centres under the law. It added that the number of those detainees run into hundreds.
The bench directed the high court’s relevant office to study the lists to ascertain the number of detainees freed, interned and shifted to the reformation centres and report to it.
It directed the Peshawar capital city police chief to appear in person on the next hearing. The police chief was also told to convene a meeting of senior and junior police officers within a week for warning them against illegally detaining people.
The bench also asked him to personally visit all detention centres of police and ensure that no citizen was kept there unlawfully.
Senior officials of the home department, Fata Secretariat, defence ministry, police and other departments were in attendance.
Earlier, a protest was staged outside the high court against forced disappearances.
Besides relatives of missing persons, activists of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamaat-i-Islami also participated in the rally.
Ms Amina Masood Janjua, who spearheads a movement for recovery of missing persons, told participants that hundreds of people had gone missing in Swat over a period of time. She urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the matter for corrective measures.