Demanding an immediate inquiry into ‘enforced disappearances’, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has asked Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to constitute a board, find the officials guilty and court martial them.
Addressing an Army official while hearing missing persons’ cases on Tuesday, PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan said: “We are afraid of the day when people will rise against you [army]. We acknowledge the sacrifices of the armed forces but they have indulged in such practices [picking up people illegally] that should be stopped.”
“A man had been kept in illegal detention for four months which is a crime under ordinary criminal laws and the Army Act. Hence, we ask the chief of Army staff to constitute a board, conduct an inquiry into the matter, track down the officers involved and, if found guilty, court-martial them,” Justice Khan said adding that a copy of the order be also sent to Gen Kayani.
Justice Khan made these remarks while heading a divisional bench of the PHC which was hearing the missing persons’ case. The bench was informed by Dil Hussain, who went missing earlier, that he had been picked up by spy agencies from the Peshawar Central Jail after he was granted bail on November 11, 2011 and he was shifted to an unknown location blindfolded.
“I don’t know the place where I was kept. They picked me up from the Peshawar Central Jail and then dropped in Risalpur on March 22 after keeping me in illegal custody for four months,” he added.
Justice Khan expressed deep concerns when another recovered person, Lakhkar Khan, 23, appeared before the bench and said that he had also been kept in illegal detention when he was picked up on March 1, 2012.
The habeas corpus petition filed by relatives of Lakhkar stated that he was picked up by Shah Jahan, a sub-inspector at the Hoti Police Station in Mardan, from his shop.
“Fathers, mothers, sisters, wives and kids of the missing people come here and cry. They promise to withdraw their habeas corpus petitions once they are assured that their relatives are alive,” Justice Khan said.
Commander Shahbaz, who appeared on behalf of the ministry of defence, responded that people were only interrogated after authorities received “credible information against them”.
“We have always submitted affidavits against those people who have not been picked up for investigation,” Shahbaz asserted.
“Despite the fact that you have always submitted affidavits, people are still found in your custody,” the chief justice remarked before closing the proceedings for the day.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.