By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The case of newly discovered 11 missing persons, presently being heard by the Supreme Court, is yet another reminder of how callously intelligence agencies of the country operate without showing any respect to rule of law.
The saga of missing persons seems to be getting more and more complicated with every passing day as the governments, whether federal or provincial, political parties and parliament are simply incapable or indifferent to providing the needed support to the Supreme Court to keep intelligence agencies under check and to make them behave as per the law of the land.
Illyas Siddiqui, the attorney of these 11 persons, insists that the Lahore High Court had ordered the release of these 11 persons on July 21, and on July 28, the orders of the court were received by the Adiyala Jail’s superintendent but instead of releasing them, the jail authorities handed them over to intelligence agencies on July 29, from the main gate of the jail. He also referred to a video evidence to prove his point.
Siddiqui did not precisely name as to which intelligence agency had abducted these persons, all of whom were acquitted in terrorism cases, including rocket attack on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, anti-aircraft shots fired at a plane carrying former President Pervez Musharraf and suicide attacks on the bus of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and at the main entrance of the GHQ.
A deputy attorney general told the apex court that none of the three leading intelligence agencies — ISI, MI and IB — have in their custody any of these missing persons. The Punjab government authorities also don’t admit that the acquitted persons were handed over to any of the intelligence agencies but say that all the persons were released as per the high court’s order.
The then Home Secretary, Nadeem Hasan Asif, said that after their acquittal by the court in terrorism cases, the Punjab government, on the recommendation of CID, kept them under detention, initially under Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and later by invoking the Anti-Terrorism Act.
But when the LHC set aside these detention orders, Nadeem told The News, the jail authorities were asked to release all the acquitted persons. When asked, Nadeem said that none of the intelligence agencies, including ISI, MI and IB, had approached him either to keep these persons under detention or hand them over to the spy agencies.
On the files of the provincial government, all these detainees were released from the Adiyala Jail. However, when they were to be released, quite a reasonable number of their relatives were waiting outside the Adiyala Jail to receive their acquitted relatives. The superintendent and the deputy superintendent of Adiyala Jail have already been arrested from the Supreme Court following the court’s order.
No matter what the government files read, some of the provincial government authorities do believe that these 11 persons would have been in the illegal custody of the intelligence agencies.
Six out of these 11 persons are those who were acquitted in a case of attack on the ISI bus near Hamza Camp on the morning of November 24, 2007, killing 17 persons and injuring 35 others. According to media reports, the Punjab Police had held the intelligence agencies responsible for their acquittal on grounds of non-cooperation and mishandling of the case.
The report said that these six people were first picked up by intelligence agencies and were latter handed over to the Punjab Police after almost nine months of detention with not a single evidence provided to police and the spy agencies even refused to share any information gathered from the illegal detainees. These reports were carried by the national press in June this year and neither the Punjab Police nor the ISPR or any intelligence agency had rebutted the news.