ISLAMABAD: Salman Haider, one of the five social media activists who went missing, has been ‘recovered’ and reunited with his family.
“He [Haider] hasn’t reached home, but is fine and with his family,” said one of Haider’s brothers while talking to The Express Tribune. “A police officer first informed the family on Saturday afternoon that Haider has been recovered,” he said in his terse reply.
The police confirmed that Haider was back but refused to share any further details.
However, a police officer, on condition of anonymity, said Haider returned to his home on his own on Friday night. “He was not recovered by the police, who had to ask the family to confirm the development,” he said.
The officer said Haider had neither met any police officials to record his statement on Saturday nor had his brother disclosed any information. “His brother told us that Haider will meet police tomorrow [Sunday] and will record his statement if any,” the officer said.
A lecturer at the Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi and a rights activist, Haider had been missing since the evening of January 6. Before his mobile phone was switched off on that day, he had texted his wife that he was going for some necessary work and asked her to collect his car from the Korang Town area of the capital.
A day after his mysterious disappearance, his family had got an FIR registered against his alleged kidnapping. In the CCTV footages, the police had found a suspicious car following Haider’s vehicle. Police had also found that the number plate of the suspicious car was forged.
Two other social media activists, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed, disappeared from Lahore earlier on January 4 while bloggers Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas went missing from Sheikhupura and Islamabad on January 7 and January 11 respectively.
According to AFP, one of the aforementioned four activists was also declared safe by a member of his family. “These 22 days were the most painful period in my life,” the relative said, adding the returned activist was now “in (a) safe place for some days”.
No group claimed responsibility for the ‘abductions’ but Human Rights Watch and other rights groups said their near simultaneous disappearances raised concerns of government involvement, which officials and intelligence sources have denied.
The US State Department and UK had also expressed concern over the disappearances while the matter had also been taken up for discussion by the parliament. The interior ministry had repeatedly said it was doing all it could to recover the missing men. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AGENCIES)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2017.