SC grills police over Punjab’s missing children

Published: January 10, 2017

LAHORE: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has asked the Punjab government to prepare recommendations, with the help of social activists, for the welfare of children in the province. It ordered that a report on this should be submitted before the apex court.

A division bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, issued these directions to the Punjab advocate general who appeared before the court on a petition related to missing children.

Appearing before the court, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jahangir objected to a police report which stated most children went missing due to personal enmities. She said the police’s attempt to absolve itself from blame was a crime in itself. The lawyer said gangs of kidnappers were and even some parents fold their children due to poverty.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that is a social, cultural and economic issue in society. He stressed on the need to work in katchi abadis to raise awareness and ensure the welfare of children. He said it is the responsibility of the state to provide basic facilities of health and education, but the state was not realising its responsibility.

The CJP said that with the increase of the population, the government had done nothing for welfare. He said no census had taken place and figures were unavailable about the number of people living in the country and their needs.

The court also took up the matter of two missing minor girls, Rimsha Khan, 7, and Humaira, 8 of Shujaabad. The two went missing in 2011, but were yet to be recovered. However, after a police request, the court granted a month’s time to recover the children.

Parents of Tayyab Khushi, a missing child from Kasur, said the boy had been missing for 17 months. His mother and father appeared before the court and requested it order the police to determine whether their son was dead or alive.

Appearing before the court, the Sheikhupura regional police officer submitted that according to the investigation, Tayyab went to the neighbouring village to meet a girl and went missing from there. He said that the police tried searching for the boy, but were unsuccessful.

The father of Tayyab, on the other hand, said he and witnesses were mistreated, while the police was giving special treatment to the suspects. He added the cops kept three of his relatives detained for several days and subjected them to physical torture. The father alleged one of his relatives broke an arm due to the abuse.

CJ Nisar questioned the RPO about the increasing number of mistreatment complainants and observed that these must come to an end.

Lahore Police informed the SC that they recovered Nadeem Aslam, 8 and Saba Aslam, 12, who went missing from the Nawab Town police area. The court was informed that the children went missing in 2015. Prior to that, they had been working in some house for a year.

The police said they left home after being mistreated by their stepmother. They added that the two also ran away from their place of employment after being mistreated by the employer. Officials said the children for Khanewal where police took them into custody and transported them to Lahore. In the provincial capital, they were handed to their father. To this, Justice Nisar asked the police to produce the children, their father and mother before the court on the next date of hearing so that a decision could be made for the minors’ welfare. The court adjourned the hearing for a month and ordered police to recover the missing children.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2017.

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