Freedom at last: 4 kidnapped children free after 2 years

Say they and their mother were held in Kohat; she is still missing.

Shamsul Islam August 16, 2011


Four children kidnapped two years ago along with their mother from their house in Siddhupura and reportedly taken to Kohat have been recovered. Their mother, Seema, is still missing.

A Samundari City police team raided a house in Siddhupura, recovering the children and arresting two people they suspected were part of the kidnapping gang.

The raid was carried out on information provided by a Kohat resident after Abdul Rehman, uncle of children’s father, Abdul Ghani, had paid him Rs20,000 to persuade him to disclose information about his relatives.

Rehman told the police that he had come across the man last week and thought of asking for help with finding his nephew’s wife and children. “Pathan vendors are notorious for trafficking people from our area to their towns where they are used for forced labour,” he said.

The police team along with the Ghani, Rehman and the informer first raided a house in Mohammad village, in Alachi tehsil, in Kohat. Police said the raid was unsuccessful. The informer then told them that the children had been taken back to Siddhupura. On returning and raiding the place mentioned by the informer, the children were recovered and two suspects arrested.

Police said the two men were identified as Muhammad Aslam Khan and Mera Khan. They said the two only spoke Pashtu and did not understand any other language. “We have been unable to communicate with them so far,” Assistant Sub Inspector Bashir said.

Police have registered a case under Section 465 of the Pakistan Penal Code (involving a wife fully leaving her spouse and not kidnapping).

Asked about the rationale behind the selection of the section, ASI Bashir said it appeared “the most suitable” in the circumstances.

He rejected the suggestion that the police had refused to register a kidnapping case two years ago on a complaint by children’s father, Abdul Ghani. “No one had approached us with the complaint,” he said. Ghani, however, insisted he had tried to take up the matter with the police but was turned away.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the older child, nine-year-old Ruqayya said she remembered being kidnapped by some masked men. She said the men had broken into their house when their father was away. The child said the next thing she recalled was in a mountainous area where the family was kept for over a year.

She said there were other women and children in the camp. At times, she said, masked men took the women away to work at forced labour camps. “Occasionally, my mother would burst into tears. She seemed to be in severe pain,” she said.

Ruqayya also reported sexual assault by unidentified men at the camp in Kohat. She said she and her sisters Rukhsar, 4, and Iqra, 3, and brother Javed, 7, were recently brought back to Samundari and their mother remained at the camp.

To a query about the medical examination of the children, ASI Bashir said the police did not want to ‘complicate’ the matter. “We have recovered them. That should be enough,” he said.

He said they would contact Kohat police and launch joint raids to recover the woman.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.