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PESHAWAR, March 26: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday gave three more weeks to police to trace the people involved in the dumping of human bodies in gunnysacks in different parts of the provincial capital and other areas.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Syed Afsar Shah fixed the next hearing for April 17, observing that it would not let anyone continue with the unconstitutional and illegal practice.

The chief justice pointed out that several factors were common in these killings: the deceased had mostly died of starvation; their bodies were stuffed in gunnysacks; the killers had left the identity cards of the deceased with their bodies; and almost all of them had disappeared in mysterious circumstances as their relatives suspected that they were picked by law-enforcement agencies.

Several senior police officials, including additional inspector general of police (investigation) Liaquat Ali Khan and superintendent of police of crimes branch Asif Zafar, told the court that they had left no stone unturned to trace the people behind the cases but so far, no major breakthrough could be achieved.

They said the relatives of the deceased had not been cooperating and they had not been naming any suspect in their respect cases.

They said they had also been looking into the issue whether the deceased were taken away by any official agency or the militants were annoyed with them and they had picked them.

The chief justice observed that about these missing persons nobody had made any demand of ransom nor the militants had claimed responsibility for their disappearance.

The human rights cell of the high court had referred this issue to the chief justice in Aug last year after newspapers reported that 26 bodies, mostly stuffed in gunnysacks, were dumped in different areas. Subsequently, several other bodies were dumped in different areas and it transpired that many of them were of ‘missing persons.’

The chief justice observed that it was so inhuman that the autopsy reports of most of the deceased revealed that they were killed by keeping them starved for weeks.

“This is height of callousness which can’t be permitted by the court. Protecting life of an individual is guaranteed in the Constitution, but the government had miserably failed in fulfilling that constitutional obligation,” the chief justice observed.

One of the police officials informed the bench that two brothers had gone missing from Sargodha district in Punjab on Nov 16, 2011, and their relatives had lodged a complaint with the police on Mar 20, 2012, wherein they had alleged that some persons in army uniform had taken them away.

He added that the body of one of the brothers was dumped on May 19, 2012, in the jurisdiction of Khazana police station in Peshawar following which they had informed the district police officer of Sargodha to look into the matter.

The bench directed the official that when the body was recovered from an area under his jurisdiction, he should conduct investigation in this respect instead of waiting for the response of police in Sargodha.

About another deceased, Arif Shah, police officials said he had gone missing from the Peshawar International Airport on Feb 13, 2012, and later on his body was dumped. He added that his relatives suspected that he might be picked by the militants as a militant commander Fazal Saeed had also killed 11 other persons belonging to Sarband area.

When the chief justice asked him how militants could enter the highly-guarded airport and take away a person from there, the official had no answer.

This, the chief justice observed, showed the level of investigation by police. He added that the Peshawar capital city police chief had failed to perform his duty and the recent suicide attack on the Judicial Complex was a proof of it.

He said it was not clear why the CCPO had been kept on the same post despite failure to deliver.

The high court also directed police to register a case for recovery of the body of a missing person from Mansehra district.

Brother of the deceased, Qazi Fazal Ahmad, told the court that his brother was picked up by security agencies from the jurisdiction of Pabbi police station in Nowshera district and his body was found in Swabi a few months ago.