LAHORE: The family of 13-year-old Aqsa has been wrecked since her alleged kidnapping on September 18, 2012.
Blaming the police for not making any effort to recover his abducted daughter, Waris Siraj says instead he has been harassed and victimised by the state machinery.
Speaking in the Express News show Takrar, Siraj said that despite having served Ittefaq Foundries, the steel mills owned by the family of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, no one has helped him find Aqsa.
According to the police, Aqsa ran away from home on her own will and would produce a marriage certificate. The mother’s woes are no less tormenting. Ishrat heard her daughter’s voice three months after she had been abducted. Then too, authorities harassed the family.
“We were made to pay Rs5,000 to trace the number,” a teary Ishrat said. “Upon finding out that the call was made from some place in Balochistan, the police outright refused to go there saying it was out of their jurisdiction.”
Upon tracing another number that was from Pakpatan, the police raided the location and arrested a woman, the mother said. “The woman said it was her business to abduct young girls and take them to dens.”
Following the arrest, the family received a call from their daughter. “She sounded very nervous and asked us to withdraw the case against the woman. She said she did not know where she was but she will return one day on her own.”
The call, however, dropped when the family asked Aqsa if she had married someone.
Punjab Minister for Human Rights Tahir Khalil Sindhu said the society has become apathetic. “It is on a very low ethical level. We need revolutionary steps to curb cases of kidnapping.”
He said a lot of changes were needed in our criminal justice system. Lack of evidence also should be revised because the existing law offered the complainant and witnesses little protection. Parents are agonised as investigation procedures are outdated.
Sindhu said station house officers (SHOs) behave as if they are not answerable to anyone. “Police obliges those who give money. This ‘thana culture’ needs to be ended,” he added.
Police spokesperson Nayab Haider said the police have an appraisable record of recovering kidnapped girls. “Most girls leave the homes of their own will and a few are actually kidnapped. There are a few cases where the girls have not been recovered,” he claimed.
When the programme host said that there were 100 cases where the kidnapped girls could not be recovered, Nayab asked to point out such a case and assured that actions would be taken accordingly.
Human rights activist Farzana Bari said the poor never get justice because they could not pursue such cases. “They are exploited by the authorities,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2013.