Civil society members, peace activists to highlight critical issue of disappearance during Monday’s protest demonstration
LAHORE: Human rights and peace activists and members of civil society along with a victim family on Friday demanded of the government of play a due role in the release of Raza Mahmood Khan, 40, a member of the Aghaz-e-Dosti organisation.
Raza, who was known for his grassroots activism for the Pak-India friendship, went missing on Saturday after attending an open discussion event on the topic of extremism. Hamid Nasir, a brother of the abducted activist, told journalists at the Nisar Usmani Auditorium of the Lahore Press Club that his brother has been abducted from Lahore and they were going to file a habeus corpus writ in the Lahore High Court.
He, along with human rights activists and civil society members, said that their family had no enmity with anyone and his brother had never received any kind of warning or threat, from any corner. Besides different social media networking websites and mobile applications, users also shared news of Raza Khan’s disappearance on Twitter, using the #FindRaza hashtag.
“Raza Khan is not someone who is very influential or from the elite, he did not have a lot of Twitter followers. He belonged to a very humble background,” said Saeeda Diep, a prominent social activist. “We will arrange a protest demonstration to highlight the critical issue of disappearance,” she said, announcing that they will gather outside the press club on Monday on the abduction of Raza Khan.
Hamid Nasir said that his brother – Raza Khan – was a peace loving and law abiding citizen, a human rights worker and a committed activist for peace in the region. To a question, he confirmed that central processing unit for Raza’s desktop computer was the only thing missing from the apartment. The police case had registered a kidnapping against unidentified suspects and were cooperating with the family, he said.
Present in the press conference, the fellow activists demanded of the police to tell them who would have a motive to take Raza Khan and need to go through his call records and the CCTV footage to know reality. “We want to register our protest against the deeply troubling trend of silencing dissent and enforced disappearances of our fellow citizens, who are working for a prosperous, peaceful and tolerant Pakistan,” they said.
Raza, who belongs to Kasur district and lives at his residence alone near Firdaus Market in Lahore, is a peace loving idealist which has dedicated his life for human rights, social change, and peace. “We feel that for such a harmless, peace loving person to disappear raises questions on the government and state institutions. We are extremely concerned for his safety and well-being,” the rights activists said.
“We call upon the federal and the Punjab governments and security agencies to take urgent steps to recover Raza Khan without any delay,” they said. Since Raza’s disappearance, the debate was a heated one, which looked into the rising violence related to the religious extremism and the role of the state.