The cases of 10 more people, out of a total of 54, were brought up at the judicial commission on enforced disappearances on the second day, Tuesday. Most of them were for Jamaat-e-Islami members.
The commission, which started work on February 27, will continue to run till March 3 to look into 54 enforced disappearances with 25 of them belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. But Tuesday’s saw hearing of missing cases of supporters belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami rather than the MQM. Their families recorded their statements and the police officers were directed to look for them.
What officially went on behind the black gates of barracks 40 and 41 of Pak Secretariat was, however, shrouded in secrecy as the police officers hurrying in and out were unwilling to share details of the proceedings on enforced disappearances and journalists were not allowed inside to cover it. Hence, the only snippets of news were gleaned from the vexed families of the people who have been ‘missing’ in Sindh.
The judicial commission was formed by Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal but is currently headed by former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa IG Sharif Virk.
Outside the gates of the National Crisis Management Cell, a light bearded Zia Iqbal was the complainant for his brother Azhar Iqbal, a trader. Ten months ago, Azhar was picked up from his home in Gulzar-e-Haidery; his house was thoroughly searched and his laptop was taken away.
According to Zia, his brother was associated with the Jamaat-e-Islami. “I request the authorities to produce my brother. Where have they hidden him?” he questioned. “Our family is very disturbed. My sister-in-law is in the capital with a month-old baby pleading for his release.”
Zia lashed out at the police for not finding his brother. “The police has not done anything! In the beginning, they did not register an FIR for two months, and it was only on court orders that it was lodged.” After the commission was over with the hearing of the case, Zia told The Express Tribune that the police had ten days to investigate and DSP Malir is heading the team. “If my brother is at fault, the court has to prove him wrong,” he said. “Not any agency or police officer.”
Ameena Batool, who had also appeared on the first day, came for the case of her husband Ajmal Waheed and his brother Osama, who disappeared reportedly from outside Karachi airport on July 1, 2011. “We believe he is in the custody of the intelligence agencies,” said Batool, clad in a black veil and abaya. She added that they were affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami.
“We have filed a petition in the high court,” said this resident of Korangi. “I am hopeful that the commission will bring them back.”
Among other victims was Naseebullah who disappeared on October 31, 2009 from Shireen Jinnah Colony. His father Naimat Gul pleaded with teary eyes, “I want my son back.”
But the commission’s hearing had disappointed him. Naseebullah’s friend Abid Ali said that both the Saddar DSP and SSP South and members of the intelligence agencies had denied that Naseebullah was in their custody. “If they all don’t have him, there where is he? Has the earth swallowed him?” Ali asked, adding that the commission had two judges.
“This is the sixth commission I’m attending for the case of my missing friend. Nothing good comes out of it.”
Also among the disappeared people is constable Muhammad Ameen posted at the Karachi Central Prison. He and his three friends Ghazi Khan, Sher Afzal, and Shiraz went missing from outside the premises. Ameen had been in the service for 27 years.
Clutching Ameen’s picture, his father-in-law sadly said that his daughter’s eyesight has become weak from crying all the time. “Ameen’s mother died grieving for her son,” he said. He alleged that the Rangers had taken a bribe of Rs100,000 to find his son-in-law, but never produced him.
Meanwhile, SHOs, SSPs and IOs were brought before the commission and directed to speed up the investigations. The crime branch’s additional IG, Ramzan Channa, was also present. Central SSP Asim Qaimkhani was called in for the case of Abdul Karim who disappeared in Karachi in 2004. But he did not have any details.
East SSP Khadim Hussain Rind was called for the case of Rizwan Tayib who disappeared from the limits of Aziz Bhatti Park. “Rizwan’s family admits that he is mentally unstable. We will search the morgues and mazars again for him,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 29th, 2012.