Enforced disappearance: SSP ignores calls but runs to court when notice surfaces

SHC spends the day hearing 40 cases of missing persons.

Zeeshan Mujahid August 10, 2012

KARACHI: With tension and fear writ large on his face, SSP Khurram Waris rushed to court on Thursday. He had not bothered to earlier respond to frantic calls made by the AIG Legal Ali Sher Jhakrani on the orders of Sindh High Court Chief Justice Mushir Alam. But as soon as he was informed that the CJ had passed a contempt of court order against him, he made a beeline for the court.

Waris is in charge of the Special Investigation Unit of the Sindh police.

However, by the time Waris reached, the bench had already called it a day after a prolonged hearing that lasted till 2:45pm and involved 40 cases of missing persons in open court. It later took up another half a dozen cases in chambers.

SSP Waris inquired about the order from the reader and later from the AIG Legal who is representing the inspector general of Sindh police and the DIG of Karachi in the missing persons case. “I was not informed about any hearing or any matter requiring my presence,” he said, forgetting that he has been named in most of the petitions filed by the kith and kin of the missing persons.

“Your reader and other staff, including SSP Umer Khattab, were informed of the hearing by the high court bench,” staff told the flustered SSP.

Waris then requested an audience with Chief Justice Mushir Alam and had to wait for more than an hour as the CJ was hearing cases in chamber.

It was on a complaint by the counsel for a petitioner that the bench had asked the office to issue SSP Waris a notice for contempt. “Why should we not recommend to the IG to suspend or dismiss [you] from service for in-subordination to the court orders,” the bench said in its order.

Earlier, in a marathon sitting after midday break and till 2:45pm, the bench heard 40 petitions one by one and passed orders. The bench was told in at least six petitions that the detenue or missing persons have returned.

One of such cases was of Burhanuddin who was whisked away from the jurisdiction of Malir police station in Gadap Town, on September 30, 2011. The police, who registered a FIR for the alleged kidnapping, submitted that the man appeared before the investigating officer on May 14, 2012 and recorded his statement before the judicial magistrate of Malir. He told the investigators that some ‘agency’ took him to Bajaur and he had been released.

The bench, however, adjourned in the matter till August 30, when all 46 petitions about missing persons would be heard again.

In another case of two missing brothers, Ajmal Waheed and Osama Waheed, a high court bench was told that TV footage shows both of them at the departure lounge of Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, from where they went missing after arrival from Islamabad as proven by the flight record.

A joint investigation team is investigating under the supervision of superior police officers, Chief Justice Mushir Alam and Syed Muhammad Farooq Shah were informed.

The bench put off the hearing of all petitions till August 30.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2012.

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