THE alleged custodial killings of “missing persons” continue unabated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining tribal areas. On Friday last two old men carrying coffins of their sons along with their pictures came to Peshawar Press Club. The two persons were allegedly picked up by local police from Peshawar Ring Road on Dec 11, 2011, and were subsequently handed over to administration of Khyber Agency. One of the old men, Yousaf Khan, had field a habeas corpus petition before the Peshawar High Court a few months ago and that petition has still been pending.
Mr Khan claimed that his son, Amjad Ali, and his maternal uncle Said Khan, both residents of Adezai area, were taken away by a police party. He said that they remained missing following their arrest and later a former detainee, Sajid Khan, informed them that he had seen Mr Ali while they were imprisoned in lockup at Jamrud tehsil of Khyber Agency.
On Sept 18, Mr Sajid appeared before a two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and testified that he had seen Mr Ali in the lockup. The witness said that he was set free on Aug 16. He alleged that a police officer, Fazal Wahid, had arrested him and was demanding ransom for his release. He said that later he was handed over to the tribal administration and he spent several months in the lockup.
On that date the bench ordered that the assistant political agent should appear on next date of hearing. However, no noteworthy proceedings took place in the case.
The case was again fixed for hearing on Nov 29. Mr Khan claimed that a day earlier he received an anonymous call telling him that bodies of his son and Said Khan were dumped at a watercourse in Khyber Agency.
On Nov 29 the bench took up for hearing over 100 habeas corpus petitions and adjourned the same to Jan 15 after a deputy attorney general, Muzamil Khan, appearing for the federal government said that the law enforcement and intelligence agencies had been finalising lists of detainees in their custody.
Incidents of killings of “missing persons” have frequently been occurring, but so far the culprits have not been arrested in any of the cases. PHC Chief Justice Dost Mohammad had few months ago taken suo motu notice of the dumping of around 26 bodies stuffed in gunnysacks in parts of the provincial capital. That case has still been pending as so far the local police could not trace the culprits involved in those killings.
In almost identical case to that of Yousaf Khan, around a month ago another old man Qazi Fazal Ahmad appeared along with his son Qazi Fazle Khaliq before a bench of the high court in a habeas corpus petition regarding illegal detention of his son Qazi Baseer Ahmad.
He said that the high court had directed the ministry of defence on Sept 25 to either set free the alleged detainee or shift him to a notified internment centre. However, he said that his captors killed him instead of releasing him. He added that on Oct 9 they received information that the dead body of the detainee was dumped at Lassan Nawab in Mansehra district.
Fazal Ahmad alleged that his son was taken away by the Elite Force of police on Jul 15, 2011, from his residence at Speen Khak, Nowshera, and another boy named Shahid Afridi was also picked from a near by seminary. Later on, he said Shahid Afridi was set free and he had also recorded his statement before the high court, but his son had remained missing.
On Nov 29, two other petitioners also claimed that their missing relatives were allegedly killed in custody and they had received their dead bodies.
A lawyer dealing with cases of “missing persons” said that the killings showed how defiant the captors of those persons were and how seriously they were taking the orders of the court. He added that one thing was clear that both federal and provincial governments failed to fulfil their constitutional obligation of safeguarding the life and liberty of citizens.