Every day, like a troubled woman, I wander the streets calling out my son Sunny’s name, desperately seeking him, but my cries go unanswered. At home, I plead aloud, “Son, let me hear your voice once, and my heart can find solace.” Yet, Sunny remains silent. This is the heart-wrenching lament of Zohra, Sunny’s mother, a resident of the old bazaar of Charsadda, whose son has been missing for 40 agonizing days.
Zohra recounts, “Forty days ago, SHO Abdul Ali from Parang police station abducted my son Sunny in front of his brother Abu Bakar. Sunny, missing and in an unknown location, calls me, demanding Rs. 600,000 for his release. Where can I find such a hefty sum?”
Struggling with poverty, Zohra Bibi works for neighbors, earning a meager monthly salary of fifteen hundred rupees. Speaking at Charsadda Press Club, Zohra alleges that SHO Abdul Ali detained her 18-year-old son on gun possession charges. Still, the police provided no information and refused to present him before the court.
Zahra Bibi expresses her anguish, saying, “We are in immense pain. His wife is grief-stricken, and I am tormented by his absence. We may be poor, but our plea is simple – we implore the government and police to release our son.”
Instances of police-enforced disappearances in Charsadda are not new. Sardheri police station stands accused of the disappearance of five brothers from Gulabad seven years ago, with a registered case. Similarly, a month ago, City Police faced allegations of disappearing Nawaz, son of Anwar Ali, from the Rajar area, yet, the whereabouts of the affected individuals remain unknown.
Abu Bakar, Sunny’s brother, confirms his sibling’s enforced disappearance: “We were returning home on separate motorcycles when the police stopped Sunny, who had a gun. SHO Abdul Ali arrested him, and since then, Sunny has been missing.”
Despite Abu Bakar’s efforts, the police deny any arrest. Abu Bakar, now receiving threatening calls, holds SHO Abdul Ali responsible for any harm befalling him.
Sunny’s mother pleads for justice, stating, “If my son has committed a crime, bring him to court. We have no objection to whatever punishment the court deems fit. Just let our son meet us.”
In line with Pakistani laws, enforced disappearances are deemed illegal and inhumane. Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa has explicitly stated that no citizen will be forcibly disappeared, yet cases persist.
Supreme Court lawyer Shabbir Hussain Gigyani highlights the legal framework, emphasizing that security agencies must produce any accused in court within 24 hours, or it is considered unconstitutional. However, in most civilian cases, the police are implicated, serving as conduits for secret agencies.
Shabbir Hussain advises a systematic legal approach – filing an online complaint, submitting applications to the Sessions Judge, and filing a writ in the High Court to record the case.
A Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, formed in 2011, reports 9294 ongoing cases of missing persons in Pakistan as of January 31, 2023. The situation remains grim, with many cases pending or closed, leaving families in despair.
Despite reaching out to Charsadda police, they offer no comments, claiming ignorance of the incident. The silence surrounding these incidents raises alarming questions about the accountability of law enforcement agencies.