HYDERABAD: A medical university student who went missing on February 10 from Hyderabad is believed to have joined a terrorist outfit, according to the police. However, the girl's father, Prof Abdul Jabbar Laghari, and the Sindh University Teachers Association (Suta) are wary of the police's version.
While the two sides are at odds, there has been no trace of second-year student at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), 19-year-old Noureen Jabbar, for over five weeks.
"She left home early morning on February 10. When she didn't return by 5pm that day, I began to search for her," Prof Laghari, who teaches at Sindh University's (SU) Dr MA Kazi Institute of Chemistry, told The Express Tribune.
Noureen always went to the university in the point bus from her residence at Zeeshan Plaza. After his search efforts, Prof Laghari lodged an initial complaint at the Hussainabad police station the same day. But, the FIR was registered over two weeks later, on February 25, nominating unidentified kidnappers under Section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code.
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"She took a bus from the Daewoo stop and left for Lahore," said Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch. He argued that the police have reasons to believe that she was a religious extremist inspired by terrorist outfits.
"We have investigated … talked to her friends and teachers. She came in contact with a terrorist organisation on Facebook. Facebook also blocked her accounts because of extremist content," the SSP claimed.
However, the SSP's account is based on the information gleaned from her university and college classmates and teachers. Despite Baloch's assertion that Facebook was the mode of her alleged recruitment, he confirmed that Federal Investigation Agency's cybercrime unit has not been involved in the investigations even after 35 days.
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He could not explain why the unit that specialises in crimes pertaining to the internet has not been taken on board so far. Meanwhile, contradicting the SSP, Hyderabad range's DIG, Khadim Hussain Rind, said it is early to attribute any reason to her disappearance. "During the course of the investigation, the complainant, [Prof Laghari], also cast doubt that she has eloped," he said.
According to the DIG, the investigating team is considering different aspects of her disappearance. "It would be premature to say that she has gone off with some jihadi group or was kidnapped."
Prof Laghari denies that his daughter nurtured extremist tendencies. "She offered namaz and wore the hijab. But a majority of female students at SU and LUMHS wear hijab. Does that mean they all have joined Da'ish?" he questioned.
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He also pointed out alleged flaws in the police investigation. According to him, the police have so far not questioned any of the passengers who were travelling on the same Daewoo bus as Noureen. He added that the police have also not obtained closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage from Daewoo's 17 stops on the way to Lahore.
"The police claim she boarded the bus at 1:45pm but they can't explain why her mobile phone was traced at 5:07pm near Agriculture Complex [on Thandi Sarak Road] the same day," said Prof Laghari.
Suta President Dr Azhar Ali Shah said, "The police are just speculating to cover their failure - wearing a hijab has nothing to do with what is being alleged".
Muhammad Afzal, Noureen's elder brother, received a Facebook message days after her disappearance from an unknown account in which Noureen allegedly told him that she has reached land of 'khilafat'. "Brother, I am Noureen. Hope you all would be well. I am also well and happy. I am sending this message to tell you that I have migrated to the land of caliphate. I hope with the blessings of Allah, you people [family] will also someday migrate," reads the message sent from the Facebook account of a person named, Uswa Jatoi.
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The DIG also rejected a rumour that around 20 female students of different universities in Sindh went missing in February. "We have the report of just one girl [Noureen] who went missing," he clarified.
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