ISLAMABAD - The non-government Roshni Research and Development Welfare Organisation informed Supreme Court on Wednesday that bodies of 30 missing children, some of them mutilated, had been recovered from Sindh and Punjab in the year 2018 alone.

The NGO told the top court that the concerned police stations had refused to register first information reports (FIRs) about 5 missing children while FIR pertaining to two other missing children was registered only after the kids were recovered dead from a lake.

The SC was further told that FIR regarding 3 missing children was registered after they were recovered with brutal torture marks on their bodies. “One recovered child was found dumped in a plastic bag after been raped and killed. FIRs regarding 18 missing children had been registered but the police had still not found their whereabouts. According to the parents, the investigation officer were the least bothered to investigate and recover the missing children.

The NGO revealed shocking facts before a 3-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar which heard the case pertaining to missing children. Syed Shabbar Rizvi, counsel for the NGO, told the bench that only one child was recovered safe by the police after hectic efforts even without registering an FIR as the child was grandson of former MNA Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani.

During the hearing, the bench expressed displeasure over the sorry state of affairs regarding the missing children. The chief justice observed that it had come to his knowledge, which he wished to prove wrong, that organs of children were being used for magic. He observed that missing children were also being used for begging. He observed that since it was a crime, so replies from police of all the provinces were required in the case in order to institutionalise the issue instead of sticking to a single case of a missing child.

Rizvi also provided the list and pictures of the recovered bodies and told the bench that the missing kids whose bodies were recovered were of the ages ranging from 3 months to 17 years. The NGO contended that every year, several thousand children disappeared from Karachi alone and same was the situation in the entire country.

“However, individual cases are reported in media after which the relevant authorities come into action but such incidents are only a tip of the ice berg”, counsel for the NGO told the court.

The counsel for the petitioner told the bench that police even refused to register a case on the grounds that disappearance of child was not a cognisable offence.  He said that missing children was not offence in Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Justice Umar Ata Bandial lamented over the fact and observed that it was a big lacuna and the government functionaries should be sensitised on the subject.

The chief justice remarked that few days ago, a person along with his wife and daughter came to Lahore registry of the SC and complained that his daughter had been raped but the police demanded Rs8,000 for registering the FIR. The chief justice remarked that a tragedy had happened with a young girl in Sindh province as a result of which she had lost her memory.

The NGO stated that a study conducted by it revealed that 5,000 or 6,000 children had disappeared from Karachi alone. “However, entries in the daily diaries of the police were not more than 3,000. Police only react when a case is taken up by media or parents of the missing child wield some influence,” the petitioner stated.

Rizvi stated that Section 364-A only stated that abduction of a child under the age of 14 had sentence of life imprisonment or 14 years rigorous imprisonment. “The police take advantage of the wording of the Section 364-A of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and avoid registering a case because the vital words used in the section are kidnapping or abduction”, Rizvi said.

The petitioner prayed the top court to direct the federal and provincial governments to treat the cases of missing children as cognisable offence and to amend the law for the purpose as well. It also prayed the top court to direct the governments for raids to immediately recover the missing children as well as introduction of proper scheme to rehabilitate the rescued children.

The bench after hearing the arguments directed the federal secretary interior, home departments of the provinces as well as IGPs of the provinces to submit their replies in the matter within 3 weeks.