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Monday July 22, 2024

FIA’s interim charge sheet accuses Sarim Burney of tampering with children’s record

By Yousuf Katpar
June 25, 2024
FIA officials escort arrested social worker Sarim Burney during the hearing of a case against him about human trafficking at the city court premises in Karachi on June 6, 2024. — PPI
FIA officials escort arrested social worker Sarim Burney during the hearing of a case against him about human trafficking at the city court premises in Karachi on June 6, 2024. — PPI

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday filed an interim charge sheet against social worker Sarim Burney in a case pertaining to alleged child trafficking by way of illegal adoption.

Burney was arrested by the FIA upon his arrival at the Karachi airport on June 6 after the Anti-Human Trafficking Circle received a complaint against the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust International from the US consulate general in Karachi.

An FIA investigation officer (IO) submitted the charge sheet to a judicial magistrate (East), naming Burney as the accused in custody and Basalat Ali Khan, the trust's legal assistant, and Humaira Naz, alias Huma, the shelter home in-charge, as absconding accused.

He stated that upon receiving the complaint, he gathered relevant documents during the inquiry and investigation, and recorded statements of witnesses who supported the version of the prosecution.

He said the witnesses had produced incriminating evidence against Burney. The IO said that Fareed Ahmed, assistant director (trust) of the Directorate of Industries and Commerce, informed him that a letter for issuance of verification report in respect of the Trust/Trustees was forwarded to a Federal Action Task Force section officer of the home department on Jan 22, 2024, but the required verification report/NOC had not been received yet.

He pointed out that the deputy director (admin) of the Sindh Child Protection Authority had confirmed that Sarim Burney Welfare Trust International was not registered under the authority. However, he added that the orphanage Sarim Burney Home for Homeless managed by the trust was registered under the Sindh Dar Ul Atfal (Supervision and Control Act) 1976, falling under the administrative control of the social welfare department.

"According to the orphan certificates of M/s. Sarim Burney Trust duly signed / issued by accused Humaira Naz, Incharge Shelter Home, two baby girls (out of three) namely Zehra Fatima and Sara Fatima were orphan and found from outside gate of M/s Sarim Burney Trust and the Trust tried level best to find their parents, no person came forward for claiming them, which is contrary with the facts that the biological father of Baby Sara Fatima and Zehra Fatima namely Wasif Shabbir who dropped / admitted both the babies in the Trust," read the charge sheet.

The IO said baby girl Haya Yasir (Muntaha) was also an orphan and found outside the gate of the trust as per her certificate signed by Humaira Naz. "Baby girl Haya Yasir is real daughter of Afsheen Muhammad Ali, resident of Yaroo Goth, Surjani Town, Karachi, who gave her baby girl to Bushra through Madiha (running / operating Ultra Sound / Maternity Clinic at Yousuf Goth, Surjani Town) and received Rs350,000 in different installments, however Madiha demanded Rs600,000 from Bushra Kanwal," he went on.

The FIA officer claimed that Burney in active connivance with Khan and Humaira had charged $6,000 for the three children from two US families. The accused admitted to receiving the amount from these families and also recognised Afsheen as the real mother of Haya in a statement recorded before the court, he added.

He said the record produced before the family court was "cunningly managed by the accused Basalat Ali Khan by hiding the facts knowingly and wilfully with active connivance of accused Syed Sarim Ahmed Burney and Humaira Naz, alias Huma."

"Basalat in connivance with Sarim Burney had deliberately changed the name of three babies in question as well as did not mention the names of [their] biological parents as party in guardianship documents / record, which they submitted before the court.

"In view of the above facts, it has been established that accused Syed Sarim Ahmed Burney in connivance with accused Humaira Naz, alias Huma, and Basalat Khan knowingly and wilfully gave false information, made misdeclaration as well as concealment of the facts before the Hon'ble Family Courts District East Karachi in the garb of illegal adoption/Guardianship of three baby girls namely Baby Zehra Fatima, Baby Sarah Fatima and Baby Haya Yasir by using and providing fraudulent documents for the purpose of trafficking the above said baby girls to abroad."

The IO said Haya was currently in the custody of her adoptive mother Hira Chootani in Karachi, whereas the remaining two girls Sarah and Zehra were in the possession of the trust after being dropped by adoptive mother Sobia who had left the country after the registration of the case.

He said the investigation was incomplete as he had to arrest the two absconding accused and gather documents related to Haya as well as six other babies as the US embassy in Islamabad had issued IR-4 adoption visas to these six babies referred by the trust over the past five years.