Peace activist goes ‘missing’
LAHORE – Peace activist Raza Mahmood Khan has reportedly been missing since Saturday evening after he arranged an interactive session on ‘Extremism and Religious Party’s Sit-in in Islamabad’ held at ‘Lowkey Lokai’ a public space located in room 709, Al Qadeer Heights, Main Boulevard, Gulberg.
Raza’s brother Hamid Nasir Mehmood complained about Raza’s possible abduction by unknown persons for reasons yet to be determined and lodged an FIR with Naseerabad Police Station on Tuesday.
The 37-year-old activist had recently completed his Masters from Punjab University’s Gender Studies Department. He was very active in running human rights campaigns. Raza runs his own organization named “Hum Sab Aik Hain”. He is from Kasur. He was residing in Firdous Market, Model Colony, Street 3, House Number 58-C.
Raza was last seen by the event attendees (eight of them) around 8 pm near Al-Qadeer Heights. Since then, his whereabouts remain unknown and both his phone numbers 03004934142 and 03334126816 are switched off.
According to his close friend Umair Vehidy, whom he knew for the last seven years, Raza was a conveyer of Aaghaz-e-Dosti which was a joint venture of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst of Peace (TCP).
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is a youth-based organization that promotes citizen diplomacy through peace education. His CNIC number is 35102-3310354-7.
Umair said the organization “Hum Sab Aik Hain” promotes noble intention of bringing fellow citizens of all classes and religions together by providing them with a public platform.
“At his residence, we found Raza’s door locked from outside, but noticed that the light was still on in his room. Upon breaking the lock we found his clothes lying around, but no valuable things had been taken. Once we exhausted all our efforts and realized that he is indeed missing, we went to the police station where his brother lodged a complaint,” he said.
Umair said police were initially reluctant in registering the case. “It is the state’s responsibility to recover him and bring those responsible to justice as all events he had arranged at Lowkey Lokai were open to public and there was nothing secret about them.
“Raza is also a proponent of peace in the South Asian region and he always stressed on the importance of improving ties with SAARC countries in order to fight our common enemies of poverty, climate change and extremism,” Umair added.
Leading human rights activist of Pakistan IA Rehman paid glowing tributes to Raza Mahmood. “He is a great activist who had devoted his life to fighting for human rights. They were organizing seminars and discussions so that they could discover rounds of friendship between Pakistan and India.
“Human rights activists all over the country are extremely concerned about his disappearance and call upon authorities to trace him. We do not know how he has disappeared. It is a case of forced disappearance,” Rehman claimed.
Devika Mittal Convener of India Chapter of Aaghaz-e-Dosti told The Nation in an email response that Raza was convener of Pakistan chapter of Aaghaz-e-Dosti. “It’s an Indo-Pak Friendship Initiative that mostly works in the field of peace and education among school students of both countries. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is in knowledge of his disappearance and all members at Aaghaz-e-Dosti are feeling pain with this news.”
“We see that his role in organisation is very important and he worked a lot in the field of peace building. He is also active in other sectors of activism in his personal capacity and as member of various other organisations, campaigns and initiatives like Awami Art Collective and Hum Sab Aik Hain,” she said.
Devika Mittal stressed that Aaghaz-e-Dosti had complete faith in government of Pakistan that he will soon be recovered.
On contact the police officer concerned whose name was mentioned in the FIR said he did not know about the matter. Sub Inspector Nazir Ahmed said the FIR could have been registered by the staff at police station but he was not aware about the progress of investigation.