Air Force police illegally detain 14-year-old, relatives after allegations of theft.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, April 29 (CDN) — Local authorities on Monday (April 26) recovered a 14-year-old Christian girl from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) police who allegedly tortured her and her family for five days here as Christian “soft targets” over false theft allegations, sources said.
Islamabad police in predominantly Sunni Muslim Pakistan removed Sumera Pervaiz from a PAF hospital, where she was recovering from injuries that a doctor said could cripple her for life. Earlier this month, according to family and police sources, PAF police were said to have illegally detained her and members of her family after PAF Wing Commander Faheem Cheema, who had hired Sumera as a maid, found gold ornaments and other valuables missing from his home in PAF Colony, Islamabad.
Cheema filed a theft complaint with local police without naming any suspects, but without informing local officers the wing commander on April 15 allegedly directed PAF police to detain Sumera and four members of her family – Pervaiz Masih, Sana Bibi, Parveen Masih and Kala Masih – who live in PAF Colony in Islamabad. PAF police allegedly failed to inform local police about detaining the family.
Cheema has denied that he ordered PAF police to detain the girl and her family members.
When District and Session Court Judge Mazhar Hussain Barlas ordered Sumera to appear at a hearing on April 22, she testified that on April 15 three persons who were not in uniform arrived at her house at midnight and detained her, her father Pervaiz Masih and the other family members.
“For many days we remained in the custody of those people, who severely tortured me during their ‘interrogation,’” she said.
When the judge asked her who had brought her to the PAF hospital, she replied that during questioning she had lost consciousness and later found herself in the hospital.
“So I don’t know who brought me there,” she said.
Because of injuries sustained during torture, Sumera is barely able to walk, said Dr. Nusrat Saleem of the PAF hospital.
“Sumera is under treatment, we are trying our best, but unfortunately the reports indicate that she might not be able to walk for the rest of her life,” Saleem told Compass.
The Pervaiz family’s Roman Catholic parish priest, Samuel James, said that the theft accusation, illegal detainment and torture would not have happened to fellow Muslims.
“I am really disturbed to see that this innocent family has been severely tortured by the police,” he said. “They have been targeted because of their faith.”
At the April 22 hearing, Sumera testified that as PAF police were questioning her, she saw her brother Imran Pervaiz also was there. The judge instructed the court to take note that PAF police had also taken her brother into custody.
In denying that he had ordered PAF to detain Sumera and her family members, Cheema reportedly said, “I don’t know anything about the illegal detention of the family, nor have I asked the police to interrogate them. They detained the family and tortured them on their own.”
Inspector Saleem Khan of the PAF police, however, indicated otherwise.
“Faheem’s family expressed their doubts about Sumera and her family, saying they are Christians and don’t belong in PAF Colony,” he said.
Initially police had tried to keep Sumera from testifying, with Station House Officer Mumtaz Sheikh telling the court, “Sumera’s health doesn’t allow her to come in the court, and she was therefore admitted in the PAF Hospital.”
The family’s attorneys, Jamila Aslam and Shamoona Javid, replied that their client was in the hospital because she had been tortured and requested that the judge direct that she be produced in court. Barlas so ordered, and a few hours later police brought her from the PAF hospital. It was the judge also who ordered that she and her family members be removed from PAF hospital custody on Monday (April 26).
Barlas also directed police to produce Sumera’s brother, Imran Pervaiz, before the court, saying that failure to do so would result in an order for police to file a First Information Report against Cheema based on testimony by Sumera and her father.
The judge also directed police to ensure that Sumera gets a medical exam, with the results to be shown to the court.
Christian organizations including Ephlal Ministry, Peace Pakistan, Protect Foundation, Life for All and others have condemned the incident. Ephlal Ministry Chairman Mehboob Alam has called on other Christian leaders to assist the family, as they have been evicted from their PAF quarters.
Report from Compass Direct News