January 24th, 2021
By Hamid Riaz
On November 3 in the dead of the night, at least three police vehicles stopped outside a dilapidated house in rural Sanghar. Over 1155 men, some of them in uniform some without, storm out of the vehicles brandishing “sophisticated” weaponry. Owing to the ruckus the owner of the house, Abdul Hameed, rushes out.
He is shocked to see such a large contingent of police outside his house. Before he can comprehend the situation, the men approached him and starting inquiring about his brother, Abdul Sattar. Taken by surprise Hameed tells the cop that his brother is sleeping in his room. The police contingent forces their way into Hameed’s house thrashes his brother, Sattar, and takes him away. To this day Abdul Sattar remains “missing” with the police making “significant” efforts to ensure his recovery.
This claim was made by Abdul Hameed in a petition filed in the Sindh High Court (SHC) through his counsel Advocate Masood Rasool Babar Memon. Two days ago, on January 21 a division bench of Sindh High Court’s (SHC) Hyderabad circuit comprising Justices Nazar Akbar and Khadim Hussain Tunio ordered the additional inspector general (AIG) of Hyderabad to produce Abdul Sattar in three weeks or appear before it on Feb 16.
“Abdul Sattar was involved in a monetary dispute with a local landlord Muhammad Umar Marri. Sattar even filed a request before a sessions judge asking for protection following which the court ordered the local police, the Berani police station to provide him legal protection. Instead of ‘protecting’ Sattar the SHO Berani police started threatening him and tried to force him to withdraw the case. He was abducted soon after”, says Advocate Masood Rasool Babar, legal counsel for Sattar’s family.
‘Following Sattar’s abduction, his brother Abdul Hameed repeatedly tried to register a First Information Report (FIR) of the incident but to no avail. So, he filed this constitutional petition in the SHC,” continues Masood.
The SHO Berani Police Station, Waseem Arbab, for his part completely denies having Sattar in his custody. “It is impossible in this day and age for a police officer to pick someone up and torture him over personnel enmity,” says Arbab. Arbab argues that there are discrepancies in Abdul Hameed’s statements and his petition has been filed “by making misstatement on oath”. “In his petition, Abdul Hameed has told the court that his brother went missing on November 3 but in an application, he submitted to be before he claimed that his brother was picked up on November 7” asserts Arbab. Interestingly Arbab does not have a copy of the ‘said’ application or any other proof of its existence. Arbab also claims that the alleged missing person ‘somehow’ made contact with his brother (the petitioner) after the petition was filed which means that the petitioner is “mis-using the processes of the court”
In the hearing prior to the last one, Arbab’s counsel made a similar argument in court. The court took the police’s argument at face value and ordered the police to “arrest” the missing person within three days and produce him before the court “with proof that he was not in police custody”. The order further stated that the arresting officer must use his phone to take a “photograph” of the place of the arrest and to make sure that “the place of arrest clearly manifests”. The court also noted that if it is established that Sattar was indeed not in the custody of the police and was defrauding the police then the “police will take action according to the law”
The judgment gave a clear opportunity to the police to establish that Sattar is a liar but they failed to produce him in court strengthening allegations that they are involved in the abduction. Arbab has no clear reasoning as to why the police have been unable to recover/arrest Sattar. “We have made teams who are actively looking for Sattar but at this point, I do not know where he is” claims Arbab. Arbab also denies that Abdul Hameed tried to register an FIR of the alleged abduction. “He has never tried to get an FIR registered. You can call him right now and ask him to come to the police station, I’ll register his FIR” grunts Arbab.
Regardless of what Arbab says he is rattled because of the attention this case is getting all of a sudden. “Arbab keeps on calling me to request a meeting so that we can resolve the issue but I refuse to meet him. I’ll see him in the court of law,” says Masood Rasool Memon. Memon calls the current order by the SHC heartening but expresses frustration at the way this case is being handled by the police. “The court ordered the police to produce my client’s brother in court but the police failed. The family is under severe distress. A few days ago, I got a call from Hameed and Sattar’s sister claiming that the SHO Bernai police station abducted and tortured Hameed to force him to take back his petition. He is not even responding to my calls now,” exclaims a worried Memon. Memon calls on the civil society to take up the issue so that Abdul Sattar can be recovered.