Rallying for Raza Khan’s whereabouts

LAHORE: The whole family is in a state of shock after Raza’s abduction. His two sisters are weeping continuously and it is becoming difficult to bring them solace, Isamel Khan, father of missing activist Raza Mehmood Khan told The Nation.

Raza’s brother Hamid Khan said Raza was a polite person. “He never lied and has been kidnapped perhaps for speaking truth,” he said.

Raza went missing on 2nd December 2017 after he arranged a interactive session on extremism and religious party’s sit-in in Islamabad that was held at ‘Lowkey Lokai’ a public space located in room 709, Al Qadeer Heights, Main Boulevard, Gulberg.

On Monday Raza’s father, his three sons, civil society representatives, human rights activists staged a demonstration outside Lahore Press Club to press the government to recover him.  Raza was also working to build peace ties between India and Pakistan through platform of NGO Aghaz-e-Dosti.

Though number of participants in the protest was round two dozen but the resoluteness on their faces told the whole story. They were all peace activists and were disturbed on the disappearance of Raza, who regularly participated in all civil society protests. They were holding placards on which was boldly written ‘Mein Raza hu’ (I am Raza), ‘Utho Iss Say Pehly Utha Liyae Jao’ (Stand up before you are taken too), ‘Qanon Say Bala Tar Koi Nahi’ (Nobody is above the law), ‘Me next!’ and ‘#FindRaza’.

Nighad Saeed Khan of Women Action Forum said that enforced disappearances are a testimony of the state of lawlessness.

Human rights Activist and member of Institute of Peace and Secular Studies Saeeda Deep with tears in her eyes said Raza was peaceful person who had done nothing wrong or hurt anyone.  

“The responsibility of disappearance lies on the shoulders of state as it is responsible for security of its citizens,” Saeeda said.

“Those who have taken him away should at least tell his family that he is alive and well. Just imagine the trauma the family must be going through,” Saeeda said. 

“Raza was a low profile peace activist but now his name has been published in all the leading newspapers of the world including New York Times. Amnesty International is campaigning for his recovery. His disappearance has sent wrong message to the world,” she maintained.  

Nineteen years old Hamza Waqas, a student of Lahore School of Economics and member of Democratic Students Alliance said the situation with human rights in Pakistan was deplorable.  “The same could happen to me and other young activists if we do not raise voice against his disappearance,” Hamza said.

Activist Rahimul Haque disclosed that Raza’s brother Hamid Nasir has filed a Habeas corpus writ in Lahore High Court. “Citizens rights according to Constitution’s Articles 4, 9 and 10 must be ensure,” he said. 

Mazdoor Kissan Party Comrade Amjad questioned that if activists like Raza will be taken away and silenced how will the country develop.

Amar Jan of People’s Solidarity Forum said Raza had now become a symbol of resistance.

Founder Director, Right Walk Foundation Samina Bano Rehman said Raza’s disappearance was not a good sign. “We used to protest against the disappearance of people in remote areas of Balochistan. One could not imagine a similar incident taking place in metropolitan Lahore,” she was of the view.  

Farooq Tariq from Awami Workers Party said his party feared that some state institutions may be involved in his disappearance. “Raza was promoting peace among children of India and Pakistan by connecting them through Skype sessions. Such a peace loving person should not have been targeted,” Farooq said.  

The youngest in the protest was eight-year-old Sachal Nadeem, a student of fourth grade in Divisional Public School. “I demand the release of uncle Raza,” he shouted.

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