Sunday July 14, 2024

24 Christian men picked up in a span of 40 days: HRCP

By Zoya Anwer
June 01, 2018

Twenty-four men went missing from Youhanabad, a Christian colony in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, in a span of 40 days. Ten of them were allegedly picked up on March 30 and April 15, while 14 others were purportedly apprehended on May 8.

These details were provided by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) during a news conference that was held at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday evening to disclose the results of a fact-finding team headed by HRCP Sindh Vice-Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt and comprising Abdul Hayyi, Nida Tanweer, Saeed Baloch, Sheikh Majeed and Qazi Khizar.

“We were told that cars without number plates surrounded the area, plain-clothes men barged into the houses late at night to search them and took away young men with them,” said Butt. “No female officials accompanied the plain-clothes men. They didn’t hold back humiliating women in the houses by swearing and threatening them with their weapons.”

He said the men allegedly also confiscated the families’ CNICs, laptops and mobile phones. “Inspector Safdar Mashwani, the Gulshan-e-Iqbal SHO under whose jurisdiction Youhanabad falls, said he wasn’t aware of the May 8 incident, but rather found out about it almost a week later. He said he didn’t know why the 14 men were picked up.”

According to the report compiled by Khizar, the FIR of the men who were picked up could not be filed due to the refusal of officials, and the police station was not informed of any such raid.

The report stated that the 24 men who were allegedly picked up on March 30, April 15 and May 8 were taken from an area that falls under District East, but a few days later they were found in seven different police stations of District West.

And when the HRCP approached the police stations, they were told the detainees were arrested on April 20 and May 15. District West SP Asif Ahmed Bhagio said that no raid was conducted in Youhanabad.

The report raised question as to how the six men who were allegedly taken from their homes in District East on April 15 were caught in attempted robberies in the Saeedabad and SITE areas in District West on April 20.

Similarly, the 14 men allegedly picked up from Youhanabad on May 8 were also found jailed in six different jails in District West on May 15. The report claimed that all the men were later shifted to different jails after they were tortured and interrogated by law enforcement agencies in false cases against them.

One of the missing men, who was released on bail, claimed that the men who came to pick him up were in plain clothes and had blindfolded him before taking him to a private enclosure and not a police cell, read the report.

The man, according to the report, claimed that he was beaten up and electrocuted to pressurise him into confessing to crimes, which he did, following which he was handed over to the SITE police station.

Butt said that whenever raids are conducted, female searchers must also be present in order to respect the privacy of the family, especially women. “It is the right of the family to know the whereabouts of their loved ones, and they must not be mistreated for asking basic questions. These arrests were made without any warrants, and we strongly urge for them to be made legally.”

Safina Javed of the Peace and Development Organisation said it took more than two months for the incident to come to light, which shows that the community is terrorised. “Christian community lives under a constant threat, and the fear of repercussions is so strong that most of the families were feeling scared of going to the authorities to report about their loved ones. We urge the Sindh IGP and the chief justice to look into these cases and help recover all those who are either in jails under false cases or are still missing.”