The call record data of slain journalist Saleem Shahzad has resurfaced as quietly and mysteriously as it had first vanished.
The Punjab police is already sifting through it as part of its investigation into his abduction and murder.
The vanishing of the call data, some 10 days ago, had set off a number of alarms. It even found its way into the opening day’s arguments in the Supreme Court, which took up a petition regarding the formation of a commission to probe the murder on Friday.
Counsels representing journalists contended that Saleem Shahzad’s call data was deleted which can only be done by ‘a powerful agency’.
However, the data is now said to be in the possession of the police.
What’s in the data?
According to the call data, a total of 14 incoming and outgoing calls and text messages were placed from Shahzad’s phone between 8:37 am and 5 pm on May 29. The data also shows that Shahzad was mostly around Blue Area in Islamabad, except for a brief stopover in F-7 Markaz. His last call was at 5 pm, which he made to Dunya TV’s Islamabad office.
After 5 pm on May 29, the call record has no more information on Shahzad’s location. However, over the next two days, he did receive 92 text messages. A person’s cell-phone does not need to be on for the mobile telecommunications company to be able to log their text messages.
Meanwhile, police officials in Islamabad have yet to decide whether or not to add charges of murder to the abduction charges against unknown persons.
Police in Mandi Bahauddin, the town where Shahzad’s body was found, have also recorded the statements of Shahzad’s brother-in-law Hamza Ameer, his driver Arif, and three close friends of Shahzad: Muhammad Faizan, Zafar Sheikh and Asif Khan.
Police officials from Islamabad have finally contacted the victim’s family by telephone, Ameer told The Express Tribune, 16 days after the case was first registered, though just one day after it was announced that the inquiry commission would be headed by a Supreme Court judge.
The investigating officer on the case in Islamabad, Shafiq Ahmed, claimed that he had been on leave and would only be able to provide further details on the case when he reported back for duty on Saturday (today).
Meanwhile, Muhammad Aslam, the investigating officer in Mandi Bahauddin, said that he has completed initial legal formalities and recorded statements, including from the three Punjab irrigation department employees who found Shahzad’s body.
Recovery memos prepared by Mandi Bahauddin and Saray Alimgeer City Police have revealed that 48 articles including a car, identity cards of Shahzad and Hamza Ameer, CDs, mobile phone and other utility bills, clothes, and papers, etc have been recovered from the vehicle of slain journalist’s car and crime scene.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2011.