Police failed to trace missing child’s family, says HRCP
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: The Punjab police ignored an order by the Federal Ministry for Law, Justice and Human Rights for resolving the mystery surrounding a missing child (5 to 7 years-old) whose family could not be traced, said the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
A complaint lodged at the HRCP’s Lahore office by the residents of Shergarh Kalan, Tehsil Kamoki in Gujranwala, said that the abducted child was in agony because of the inability of the police in tracing his family.
The child, Amer (actual name Adnan), told a HRCP team that his father’s name was Zaheer and mother’s name was Shumalia and added that his father was a driver. The child said that he belonged to Depalpur, district Okara near Darbar Akhan Shah. But the team found no relations of the child there. Kishwar Shaheen Awan, the HRCP’s regional head, headed the HRCP team which was formed in August.
The child was living in a policeman’s house for the past two years. Imran, an old servant of the house, had brought him. Imran had later fled raising suspicions that he had purchased or kidnapped the child. The alarmed neighbours suspecting this had informed the HRCP, while the present ‘custodian’ of the house, Malik Shaukat Awan said that the child was his servant. Malik Awan and Malik Akhtar Ali, the in charge of the local police chowki, showed documented evidence of having taken action to find the child’s family, which did not satisfy the HRCP team.
Muhammad Zia Aftab, the HRCP’s spokesman, told Daily Times that the HRCP team had also quoted Article nine of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which was also adopted by Pakistan with certain ratifications, for informing the police of their responsibility. According to the Article, “State Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child’s place residence.”
HRCP said, “Police Station Wahndo may be advised to register a case of kidnapping against Imran, who fled leaving the innocent child to face more miseries. Simultaneous efforts may also be made with the help of the local community to arrest him.” The HRCP said that all DPOs (District Police Officers) in Punjab should be instructed to enquire whether any case regarding the kidnapping of a child had been registered. If no such case had been registered within their areas, they might be advised to confirm this in writing with the Regional Directorate of Human Rights, Ministry of Law Justice and Human Rights Lahore. The Edhi Centres in all the districts of Punjab may be contacted to extend their help on this matter,” added the HRCP submission.
Meanwhile, Ms Awan, has offered to take custody of the child till his parents are traced. However, the police have not taken action. The concerned Deputy Inspector General has asked the DPO to look into the case. The local police claimed that they could not register the case because the child was not kidnapped from their area. Mr Aftab told Daily Times that the DIG had forwarded a copy of the order to the HRCP as proof that he had fulfilled his ‘responsibility’.