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Senior officials put on notice in missing person cases

September 19, 2012

PESHAWAR, Sept 18: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday put on notice several high ranking officials of federal and provincial governments, intelligence agencies and police department in 13 habeas corpus petitions freshly filed by the relatives of missing persons.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Irshad Qaiser directed the federal secretaries of defence and interior, provincial interior secretary, provincial police officer, directors general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence and some other officials to file their replies to the said petitions.

The bench fixed Oct 23 as next date for hearing in these petitions.

The petitions are mostly filed by female family members of the missing persons. One of the petitions is filed by Seema, who alleged that her husband Jehanzeb was taken into custody by security forces in 2009 from Kanju area in Swat. She said that since then his whereabouts were not known.

Another petition is filed by Khalida whose husband Hazrat Hussain was allegedly taken into custody by law enforcement agencies in Swat in 2009. Similarly, another petitioner Rukhsana claimed that her son Mohammad Iqbal was arrested near Karkhano checkpost by police in 2009 and since then he had been missing. She claimed that her son was a student and at the time of his arrest he was 17.

In another 37 habeas corpus petitions, which have already been admitted to regular hearing, the bench directed the ministries of defence and interior to file proper replies within 20 days. Most of the cases were adjourned to Oct 23 and Oct 30.

The deputy attorney general, Mohammad Iqbal Mohmand, appeared for the federation and interior ministry, whereas a joint secretary of defence, Mohammad Yaqoob, and another representative Wing Commander Irfan Ahmad appeared for the defence ministry.

They contended that during previous hearing they were directed by the court to submit replies to those petitions, however, so far they had not been provided copies of the petitions by the official concerned.

The bench issued directives to the relevant official of the high court to provide to them copies of the petitions.

In five other petitions, the officials filed replies and expressed ignorance about the alleged detained persons. The PHC chief justice inquired from them what their mechanism of inquiring from the intelligence agencies was.

The officials said that they directly sought information from ISI, whereas from MI they have to get information through the General Headquarters. The PHC chief justice observed that they should simplify their procedure by directly contacting the sector commanders of the agencies and field commanders of army to save time.

Meanwhile, the bench summoned the assistant political agent of Jamrud tehsil, Khyber Agency, on Oct 2 in another petition after a former detained person testified that son of a petitioner was present with him in the lock-up at Jamrud.

The petition is filed by Yousaf Khan, claiming that his son Amjid Ali is in illegal confinement in tribal areas. The witness, Taj Mohammad, said that he was set free on Aug 16. He alleged that a police officer, Fazal wahid, had arrested him and demanded ransom for his release. He stated that later on he was handed over to the tribal administration and was kept in the lock-up for several months. He added that Amjid Ali was also present in the said lock-up.