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February 9, 2018

Another case of enforced disappearance comes to light


February 9, 2018

Two days after desperate family members of a missing person shared their ordeal with the media at the Karachi Press Club, another distraught family came forward on Thursday with their own account of fear and helplessness.

Syed Jamil, an engineer by profession, while addressing mediafolk at the club yesterday afternoon, said that his son, Nabeel Akhtar, a final-year chartered accountancy student, was picked up by security agencies with the help of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and the police on September 15, 2017.

He said Nabeel had gone to meet a friend, Junaid Iqbal, sometime between 8pm and 9pm on the day. Both men have been missing ever since. Jamil said his family was absolutely clueless about the whereabouts of both.

“Since then, my son and his friend have been detained at some unknown place. Neither of them has been produced before any court, nor released. We, the family, have not been informed of their whereabouts,” he said.

He added that according to information that had trickled to them through various sources, the two had been picked up from near the Gulshan Chowrangi area. Umar Hayat Sandhu, Advocate, Supreme Court, who was also present at the press conference, said the Sindh High Court had constituted a joint investigation team to probe the issue but to date, no agencies had divulged any information about the whereabouts of the disappeared, despite the passage of five months.

Sandhu said that by law, an accused had to be charged within 24 hours of their arrest and produced before a court.

“The state is there to grant protection to citizens against heinous crimes such as kidnapping. Imagine what would happen if the state started resorting to such crimes. This shows that abduction is being made a way of making the people fall in line by creating a scare,” he said.

Sandhu stated that there were 200 cases of missing persons in Karachi’s courts. “The courts realise that it is cruel, but they are helpless. The security agencies seem to transcend the judiciary,” Sandhu remarked, adding that the courts must take suo moto action.

Both Jamil and Sandhu said that according to information they had gleaned from various sources, the two kidnapped persons were suspected to be members of the banned outfit, Hizb ut-Tahrir. Jamil, Nabeel’s father, said that despite court orders, the agencies were refusing to release his son.

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