The apex court’s ultimatum worked.
The police presented before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court at the Quetta registry four of the seven missing persons from the Marri tribe following days of denial.
On Thursday, the bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ordered the police to recover the missing men within 24 hours, or else top police officials, including the Balochistan police chief, would be suspended.
The seven men were picked up from Quetta’s Sariab Road neighbourhood on March 1. They were listed as missing ever since.
The bench was hearing a petition on the volatile security situation and human rights violations in Balochistan.
Earlier, Justice Chaudhry had suspended the station house officer of New Saryab, Noor Bakhsh Mengal, over his ‘false’ statement about the case.
The men Quetta police produced before the apex court on Friday were: Hazar Khan, Mazar Khan, Malik Sher and Javed Marri,
The daughter of Balakh Sher Marri, a Marri tribesman who is still missing along with his two relatives, told journalists that the four men produced before the court were kept in a dark room with masks on. She added the missing men were students from the restive Kohlu district.
The apex court ordered that if any more people go missing, police officers of concerned police stations, including SHOs, be suspended.
Ironically, while the Supreme Court bench is hearing the rights violation case, police on Friday found two mutilated bodies dumped in the Kanak area of Mastung district.
The fresh grisly discovery angered the chief justice.
“There is no difference between human beings and animals in Balochistan, where mutilated bodies are being discovered on a daily basis. I think I should stay in Quetta for a month,” Justice Chaudhry remarked.
Maj-Gen Ubaidullah Khan Khattak, the inspector general of the Frontier Corps, also appeared before the court and categorically rejected the murder charges against his force.
“During the Balochistan Assembly proceedings, PPP MPA Sadiq Umrani accused the FC of kidnapping and killing two persons near Kalat and Mastung. It is a serious allegation and the MPA was accompanied by two ministers when this incident took place and they cannot lie on the floor of the house,” Justice Chaudhry said.
A young woman informed the bench that her brother and his two friends were picked up ‘by government functionaries’ from Killi Ismail neighbourhood of Quetta on April 3.
The bench directed Jinnah Town’s superintendent of police to ensure the safe recovery of these missing persons by April 10.
“The court will register an FIR under 302 against the SP concerned if even one of the three missing persons is found dead,” Justice Khilji Arif Hussain told the police.
The provincial home secretary informed the court that as many as 1,056 people, including 227 personnel of the Frontier Corps (FC) and 196 policemen, have been killed in Balochistan since 2009. Another 250 people were killed in targeted attacks.
“This high figure reflects the failure of the government and its functionaries,” Chief Chaudhry said angrily. “Crimes are rising and there is no one to check them and protect the rights of the common man. Crime will continue to rise unless the government restores its writ.”
The hearing was adjourned till April 12. The next hearing will be in Islamabad. The apex court will hold another hearing in Quetta on April 30.
Bakhtiar Domki case
In the case involving the murder of MPA Bakhtyar Domki’s wife and daughter, the bench summoned the Sindh police chief and directed him inform the bench about the progress in the case.
The judges reacted angrily when they were informed that the investigation officer has gone abroad and the case has been handed over to another officer. How did the investigation officer go to the United States for training without informing the court? the asked the bench.
The court observed that it was an important case having a direct impact on the Balochistan situation. The court then summoned the inspector general of Sindh police at next hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ