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Tuesday June 18, 2024

Court sends Sarim Burney to jail on judicial remand

By Amin Anwar
June 09, 2024
Social worker Sarim Burney is seen seated ahead of his hearing of a case against him pertaining to human trafficking at the city court in Karachi on June 6, 2024. — PPI
Social worker Sarim Burney is seen seated ahead of his hearing of a case against him pertaining to human trafficking at the city court in Karachi on June 6, 2024. — PPI

Social worker Sarim Burney on Saturday was sent to jail on judicial remand after the court rejected the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) request seeking an extension of his physical remand.

Burney's bail petition was scheduled for hearing on June 10 (Monday) by Judicial Magistrate (East) Khaliq ul Zaman.

The social worker — who runs the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust International, a non-profitable entity — was produced before the court following the completion of his two-day physical remand.

In conversation with journalists at the court, the social worker said he was not at mistake with regards to the case. "I do not believe there is any mistake in the papers. I am running the system and suffering as a punishment," Burney said.

Burney was taken into custody on June 5 after he landed at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi following his US visit. The social worker's arrest and subsequent remand by the FIA came in the wake of charges which include human trafficking, smuggling and illegally sending children to the US after American authorities filed a complaint against him.

Burney is accused of smuggling a newborn girl named Haya to the US, the FIA said. The officials added that Burney bought the baby from her parents for Rs1 million and sent her to the US.

"More than one person assisted Sarim Burney in the purchase of the girl,' they added. The FIA officials also recorded the statement of the baby's parents who, they added, are extremely poor.

During the social worker's appearance before the court on Saturday, the FIA lawyer said that Haya's mother, Afsheen, has sold her daughter to a woman named Madiha, who further sold the child to another woman, Bushra.

Burney, on the other hand, declared the baby girl orphan in the family court, said the FIA lawyer. The FIA counsel added that the accused is neither cooperating in the investigation nor answering the questions correctly. "There are more than 20 victims to be identified and the accused is not cooperating," the lawyer said.

When the court asked about the amount of money taken by the person who adopted the baby, the FIA counsel said: "The person who adopted the girl has given $3,000."

The court asked the FIA lawyer if there was any evidence regarding the payment, the counsel said the agency has sought records from the US authorities. He requested the court to conduct an in-camera hearing of the case as the matter pertains to minors. "An organised group is involved in this, one more week's remand should be given."

The court also asked the FIA lawyer if the real parents of the girl are alive, to which he responded in the affirmative and said that they will record their statements in the court.

Lawyer Amir Nawaz Waraich, who appeared on behalf of Sarim Burney, told the court that the family of baby Haya said they themselves gave their daughter away. "The FIA has been investigating this case for two and a half months. They were blackmailing the baby's mother," he said.

Burney's counsel said his client will answer the appropriate questions. During the hearing, the social worker said he has the evidence in his mobile phone. "I said I am out of the country and will come back and answer."

The court asked Burney why he lied when the baby's real parents were alive, responding to which he said he had no knowledge about it. "You are the head of the institution; how did you not know?" the judge asked the social worker. The court then asked the FIA's investigation officer to record the accused person's statement.