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January 10, 2017

Where did two vehicles used for kidnapping Haider go?

Top Story

January 10, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Authorities have made progress into the investigation of the abduction of rights activist and Fatima Jinnah Women University professor Dr Salman Haider, who disappeared from Islamabad on Friday night.

Sources told Geo News on Monday that the Safe City project has identified two vehicles in which the kidnappers came to pick up the human rights activist. Investigators had asked the Safe City Project to help in the probe via visuals from its cameras installed in the federal capital.

"We are putting our best efforts for the release of Salman; however it seems impossible without the cooperation of intelligence agencies," a senior police officer told this correspondent while requesting anonymity.

Sources said that footage from the cameras helped the Safe City project identify a Toyota Surf and Toyota Vigo vehicle in which five persons came to pick up Dr Salman Haider. Authorities have been able to identify the registration number of one of the vehicles, JA-103, which they found was a fake Islamabad number plate.

Sources close to the investigation said they have tracked the last location of Dr Salman Haider’s mobile phone to Islamabad. The sources are mum about the whereabouts of the vehicles used in the kidnapping of Salman. Officers are tightlipped regarding the direction of those vehicles and where they went after taking Salman along with them.

Three days have passed since the sudden disappearance of Dr Salman Haider – a poet, writer, academician, and a very vocal human rights advocate – who was among at least four activists active on the social media who have gone missing this week.

Salman went missing from Bani Gala on Friday night and his car was recovered by police from the Koral Chowk near the Islamabad Expressway. Hours after Dr Salman was due home on Friday evening, his wife received a text message from his phone saying he was leaving his car on the Islamabad Expressway, his brother said. Police later found the car and registered a missing persons' report under Section 365 (Abduction) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Lohi Ber police station.

Salman's brother, Zeeshan Haider, told Geo News that the family was in contact with the police officials, who have said a joint investigation is underway with the main goal to retrieve him unharmed as soon as possible. He said Salman had not received any specific threats. The family said they were concerned for Salman's well-being as the poet suffers from allergy for which he requires regular medication to stay alive, making the need for his speedy rescue even more urgent.

Two of the other men who have gone missing this week – Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed – disappeared on January 4, according to a cybersecurity NGO, while Ahmed Raza Naseer vanished along with his friend from Nankana Sahib on Saturday, relatives said. Waqas Goraya, who is a resident of the Netherlands, was picked up on January 4, as was Aasim Saeed, said Shahzad Ahmed, head of cyber security NGO Bytes for All.

"None of these activists have been brought to any court of law. Their status disappearance is very worrying not only for the families, but also for netizens and larger social media users in the country," Ahmad said.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has directed the police authorities to expedite investigations into the case by taking help from the safe city cameras installed in the federal capital.

"Salman Haider should be recovered as soon as possible with the help of all relevant institutions," Chaudhry Nisar said in a statement from the interior ministry late Saturday. More than four days have passed now since the first disappearance, but police have still been unable to find any significant leads as to what happened to the other social media activists. 

Meanwhile, websites/accounts of three of the four missing social media activists have gone blank while that of the fourth, Salman Haider, was still there till Monday evening.