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Fresh probe ordered into missing persons cases

August 17, 2012


The image shows men detained and hooded by security forces. — Photo by Reuters

PESHAWAR, Aug 16: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the defence and interior ministries to investigate afresh dozens of missing person cases about which they earlier expressed ignorance.

The secretaries of the two ministries were told to produce separate sworn affidavits in all these cases.

Hearing around 200 cases of missing persons, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Roohul Amin Khan directed the federal and provincial government to expedite the process of shifting missing persons to the notified internment centres.

It disposed of nine of these petitions after learning about the shifting of the relevant missing persons to internment centres, while seven petitions were disposed of because the said detainees have reached home.

In several cases, director (legal) of the defence ministry Wing Commander (r) Mohammad Irfan sought more time from the court for submitting sworn affidavits on behalf of his secretary.

He said a new defence secretary was appointed of late and that if time was provided to him, he would verify the sought-after information in the missing person cases from the relevant field commanders.

The bench adjourned hearing into cases to Sept 12, 18 and 25 directing the representatives of the relevant departments to produce concrete information about missing people concerned.

It issued bailable warrants for the arrest of the assistant political agent of Jamrud tehsil, Khyber Agency, over failure to show up despite orders.

Despite intense heat and fasting, scores of the relatives of missing persons visited the court.

Many of them were women and children, who held pictures of their missing relatives.

A representative of Frontier Corps, Major Zafar, said in 12 cases, allegations were levelled against the FC and in nine of them, detainees were shifted to internment centres, whereas in three cases, detainees were not in the force’s custody. In several cases, deputy attorney general Mohammad Iqbal Mohmand said detainees were not in custody of intelligence agencies. However, the bench directed him to continue efforts for tracing missing persons.

In another case regarding the alleged illegal detention of two minor brothers, Nazeem and Ijaz, the bench was informed that the legal representative of Fata Secretariat, Malik Mujtaba, had been performing Aitiqaf and therefore, he couldn’t turn up.The chief justice observed that although Aitiqaf was also a good thing, the counsel should have though of the agonies through which these people had been passing. The two boys were allegedly taken away by security forces from a school in Bara, Khyber Agency, on Jan 7, 2010, and since, their whereabouts had been unknown.

The bench ordered the authorities to verify the presence of the two in the notified internment centres.

In two cases, lawyer Arif Jan said the detainees had been traced.

He said one detainee, Ziaur Rehman, had been freed, while the other, Sabir Khan, was released on bail as he was charged under the Frontier Crimes Regulation by the administration of Khyber Agency. Lawyer Shahnawaz Khan also informed the bench that detainee Fazal Akbar, who was taken into custody by security agencies on Nov 27, 2011, had returned home after being set free.