- Fawad Hasan visibly shaken after being freed, fears for his life
KARACHI: Sindh Rangers on Monday abducted journalist and rights activist Fawad Hasan from the premises of the Karachi University after the latter attended a condolence meeting organised for late Professor Hassan Zafar Arif, who was found dead in “mysterious circumstances” on January 15.
The journalist, however, was released after professors lodged a protest with the KU vice chancellor.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Fawad said that he was detained by the personnel of law enforcement agency in plainclothes after the meeting.
When asked about the reasons behind captivation, he said: “Their [LEAs] only demand is that we [civil society] stay silent.” He refused to comment further, saying that “he is not safe”.
It may be mentioned here that Fawad Hasan had interviewed the ‘slain’ professor after he was released on a bail by an anti-terrorism court. The professor was arrested for his alleged role in the August 22 speech of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain.
A friend of Fawad Hasan, Khurram Nayer, alleged that the Rangers also harassed the organisers of the meeting—Karachi University Teachers Society (KUTS). However, the convener of KUTS, Dr Ahsan Taha, refuted the claim, saying: “The ‘young boy’s’ [Fawad Hassan] abduction had nothing to do with the event.”
After the brief abduction of Fawad Hassan, the KU professors along with the meeting participants lodged a protest with the vice chancellor, Nayer added.
Subsequently, the VC approached the Rangers. Following the contact, the paramilitary force told the meeting organisers to pick Fawad up from the headquarters. The Rangers released him under mounting pressure, Nayar claimed, adding that there were visible torture marks on Fawad’s face.
Responding to a question, Dr Ahsan Taha said: “Fawad didn’t say anything anti-state, he had only read Habib Jalib’s poem.”
One of the attendees of the meeting, Dr Riaz Ahmad, said: “The event wasn’t organised by any banned outfit, it was just a condolence meeting.”
“Who will come to the university now? How can we give lectures in classrooms when we fear that our protectors can pick us up if they don’t like anything we say?” he lamented.
“I asked the vice chancellor to take serious action over the matter but he [too] was helpless,” he added.
Rangers Spokesman Major Raza Qambar was contacted for official comment on the issue but his phone was powered off.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Monday briefed the Senate about the disappearance of rights activist Raza Mahmood Khan and said that the government is making efforts to for his recovery but so far no leads have emerged about his disappearance.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani asked Iqbal whether he had no knowledge about Raza’s disappearance.
“It is surprising that those who have abducted Raza Khan have vanished,” he remarked, adding that no information has emerged about the killer and rapist of six-year-old Zainab Amin so far either.
Taking part in the discussion, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar commented that those who present a narrative that differs from that of security agencies tend to “go missing”.
On January 5, Mumtaz Sajidi Baloch, an MA International Relations student of Karachi University, and his brother Kamran Sajidi, an intermediate graduate, were reportedly picked up by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) personnel in plainclothes, accompanied by a heavy contingent of police from their residence, located just around the University Road.
On January 7, the two brothers returned home but didn’t say a word on the identity of their captors.
On November 20, 2017, Sagheer, a second-year Baloch student in the Political Science Department at KU, was having tea near the Visual Studies Department when several persons showed up in a car and two motorbikes and whisked him away. The family and media remain clueless about the whereabouts of Sagheer hitherto.
On December 5, 2017, a peace activist, Raza Khan, had gone missing from Lahore following a discussion session on the topic of extremism in context of a recent sit-in staged by religious parties and state’s subsequent capitulation to it.
Members from various civil rights’ organisations repeatedly protested against the enforced disappearances in the country as they demanded the state and global human rights’ bodies to intervene to avert worsening human rights situation in the country.