ISLAMABAD – In an interim order in the Balochistan law and order case, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held Frontier Corps (FC) responsible for the disappearances in the province and ordered registration of cases against the agencies accused of being involved in the matter.
It directed the defence secretary, Balochistan chief secretary, home secretary, inspector general of police (IGP) and FC IG to take concrete measures for the recovery of missing persons at any cost.
In its interim order, the apex court stated that it was a responsibility of the government to protect life and property of people and ordered to recover the missing persons.
The order further said the helplessness of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) was against the expectations, while it had also been found that the agencies, especially FC, were involved in disappearances.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir submitted the report of a high-level committee on the issue of missing persons formed on the intervention of ex-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, noted that although, the committee had presented a report, but no practical steps were taken on the serious matter.
“It is the duty of the state to recover and produce the missing persons,” the chief justice said, adding, “As it is alleged that they are criminals and terrorists and involved in anti-state activities, they should be dealt with in accordance with law.
“It is the duty of all the agencies and the police to recover and produce the missing persons before the court on July 9,” the chief justice directed.
Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi, appearing before the court on a short notice, informed the bench that she would make all efforts for the recovery of disappeared persons, adding, “I submitted a report about the 93 missing persons at the Interior Ministry.”
The chief justice directed her to convene a meeting of the heads of all the agencies and discuss the matter. “Asked them to find out the missing persons and take action against them if they don’t,” he further said.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja stated: “This is not an impossible or very difficult exercise to trace out the disappeared persons but just have a heart and show courage. Mere claims would not be sufficient now and you have to prove your action.”
Balochistan Home Secretary Naseemullah Bazai said 381 bodies of the people killed in terrorist attacks and targeted killings had been found from various parts of the province till to-date. Out of them 102 bodies were found in 2010, 203 in 2011 and 76 in 2012.
He further said the Balochistan government had framed a policy to pay Rs 0.4 million as compensation to the relatives of a dead person and the district committees had been directed to complete the formalities on the subject.
Bu the chief justice noticed the amount was too little and directed the secretary to give at least Rs 1 million to the legal heirs of every victim within three days.
Provincial Home Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Zehri, who is allegedly involved in the kidnapping of two men, was directed to appear in person on the next date of hearing.
Justice Khawaja said Ayesha Bibi had claimed that her missing sons were in the custody of Zehri, adding that the poor woman requested the court to order Zehri to release them.
At this the court was informed that Zehri was on bail for the last eight years he is on bail. The judges, while expressing their annoyance, said how the provincial minister was granted bail when he was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of two persons. The chief justice ordered the registrar to get report from the session Judge, who granted bail to Zehri.
During the proceedings, the chief justice recalled that Duran Khan, the brother of a missing person, had alleged that the FC was involved in kidnaping his brother Abdul Malik. Therefore, the district and sessions judge Quetta was asked to probe the matter and submitted a report, which also stated that the involvement of FC could not be ruled out.
The bench noted that the Balochistan Police was also involved in arresting and releasing of missing persons, as observed in the disappearance of Naseer Ahmed and Akhtar Hussain, when the police not only recovered the missing persons but also their car parked at an abandoned place because of the constant pressure.
The home secretary complained that there was no check on issuance of SIMs by the mobile phone companies. He claimed that he bought 1435 activated SIMs from the open market, which was violation of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) law.
The mobile phone companies were directed to submit a report regarding issuance of SIMs to about its June 18 order. The chief justice said the PTA could take action against the companies it they failed to comply with the order.
The bench was told that Customs authorities had confiscated 150 unregistered vehicles and four motorcycles.
The case adjourned till July 9, when the hearing would be held at the Supreme Court Quetta Registry.
Updated at: 25 May 2013
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