KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Sunday ordered authorities to set up a special cell for missing persons after Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar received complaints from the relatives of missing persons during his visit to the district courts in Larkana on Saturday.
During the hearing of the suo motu case at the top court’s Karachi registry, the Chief Justice ordered law enforcement agencies to keep the SC human rights cell in the loop during investigations.
The top judge had also summoned the heads of intelligence agencies including Inter Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence, and the Intelligence Bureau, along with the DG Rangers and Sindh IGP for Sunday’s hearing. IGP Amjad Javed, DG Rangers Major General Muhammad Saeed, and representatives of security agencies were all in attendance.
The much-anticipated court proceedings had a rather riotous beginning as petitioners began wailing as they accused security agencies of picking up their relatives.
Even before the hearing commenced, the families of over 50 missing persons gathered outside the court as several men, women and children holding placards and banners called for the recovery of their missing loved ones. The demonstrators also complained of a long list of flaws in the system which delayed justice.
Speaking to the media outside the court, weeping family members pleaded to the CJP to ensure the retrieval of their long-lost fathers, brothers and children. “Our loved ones have been missing for a long time and we have no clues whether they are alive or dead,” said one of them.
Given the sensitive nature of the session, a large contingent of Rangers and police officers was deployed to ensure security. The officials, while preventing protesters from approaching Justice Nisar, infuriated the demonstrators and a hot exchange of words was seen between the two sides.
“I did not expect such lack of manners,” said the top judge. “I came here at 2:00am just for you people but all I saw was contempt of court.”
Similar chaotic scenes were also witnessed inside the courtroom as relatives got even louder as they yelled, pleaded, and hurled accusations. Some of them even resorted to manhandling security officials, who were trying to defuse the situation.
At one point, a woman repeatedly punched the dais to mark her anger towards the judicial system, to which the CJP remarked that he had not expected such insulting treatment from a daughter of the nation. Irritated by this rather unusual display in the Supreme Court, the CJP warned the lady to immediately leave.
“I am here with sincere concerns for your petition, but all you are doing is insulting the court,” he said. “If such a behaviour was exhibited by a man, I would have sent him to jail.”
The CJP also scolded another protesting woman who had gotten into an altercation with a woman police official at the court. “How could you dare to hit a police officer,” the CJP said, “You are like our daughters so we are forgiving you”.
The woman who hit the dais later tendered an unconditional apology.
The uncontrollable commotion persuaded CJP Nisar to call for a break, but owing to the gravity of the case, the hearing was soon resumed.
“We have no faith in the security institutions,” said some of the demonstrators as they asked law enforcement agencies to check CCTV footage and trace down people taking away their loved ones. Observing their grievances, the CJP remarked that he was sorry to learn about the fears surrounding the missing persons.
“These families deserve to know whatever has happened to their loved ones so that they might get some relief from this constant psychological agony,” said the Chief Justice, while expressing his hope that the missing persons are alive and well.
Responding to the demonstrators’ accusations CJP Nisar remarked, “I am sure that they have not been whisked away by our agencies”. He then concluded the hearing and proceeded to his chambers where the Sindh IGP and DG Rangers briefed him on the issues surrounding the recovery of missing persons.
Expressing sorrow for the findings pertaining to the case, the top judge said that it was sad that not even youngsters but even people as old as 57 that had gone missing.
He said that the concerned departments and agencies must share any information they have about the missing persons and ordered law enforcers to set up a special cell to keep records and information on the missing persons.