On November 8, 2020, two political activists, Amar Fayyaz and Sarvej Nohani, were sitting in a room in a residential colony adjacent to Liaquat Medical and Health University in Jamshoro, chatting at half past one in the morning when suddenly there were two luxury cars and three police mobiles. Vehicles come and stop. Plainclothes men in cars and policemen in government uniforms alighted from the vehicles and entered the room, taking both Amar Fayyaz and Sarvej Nohani into custody.
They has been missing since that day.
His family members say they have not been able to contact him, while Jamshoro local police claim they are unaware of his arrest.
For the past several years, Fayyaz has been associated with the Progressive Youth Alliance, a youth political organization that works for free education, the restoration of student unions, the provision of guaranteed employment and the overthrow of capitalism. He is originally from Qambar, a town in the western district of Qambar in Sindh, but has recently moved to Hyderabad with his family. He also recently translated a book by Marx Alan Wood, a British Marxist, into Sindhi.
His wife Sapna Amr says that her husband had gone to Jamshoro from Hyderabad to visit his friends that day. “He was supposed to return home at night but when that didn’t happen I started calling him in distress but his phone kept shutdown.”
Amr Fayyaz and Sarvej Nohani were tortured when they asked for an arrest warrant.
At eleven o’clock the next morning, her husband’s friends informed her that Amr Fayyaz had been taken into state custody. She says that when state officials came to take Amr Fayyaz and Sarvej Nohani into custody, onlookers heard their husbands calling for their arrest warrants and were tortured.
Sapna Amar says she has also contacted the local police for Fayyaz’s recovery, but “the police are neither recording his arrest nor filing a report of his abduction.”
Sarvej Nohani also works with youth organizations to protect and promote political and social rights. He also recently led a youth march in Jamshoro against the federal government’s handing over of Bundle and Budu islands near Karachi.
According to his close friends, he was taken into state custody two years ago, after which he went missing for six months, but his arrest was never recorded in official records. During this time, anti-terrorism cases were also filed against him. He had been released on bail in those cases before being reunited. He was due to appear in court the day after he was taken into custody.
Relatives of the missing say police are not showing arrest of their missing loved ones.
Following the disappearance of Amr Fayyaz and Sarvej Nohani, a series of protests by their political allies has begun. Two days ago, activists of the Progressive Youth Alliance staged a demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club for the recovery of all those who were forcibly disappeared, including the two, most of them college and university students.
The Sindh Sabha, an organization that has raised its voice against enforced disappearances, had earlier in the day formed a 70-member convoy to repatriate 85 people who had been forcibly disappeared from various parts of Sindh, including Amr Fayyaz and Sarvej Nohani. A foot march began. Twenty women are also in the caravan.
March participants are currently heading to Hyderabad from the southern Sindh city of Thatta. He said that all the missing persons were initially taken into custody by the state agencies but no trace of them has been found since then.
Protesters demand an end to enforced disappearances across Sindh
Sindh Sabha chief Inam Sindhi says the marchers will reach Lahore via various cities in Sindh where they will sit for a week, but their final destination is Rawalpindi, where they want to present their demands to the authorities. According to him, the people involved in the march are demanding an end to the series of enforced disappearances in all parts of Pakistan, including Sindh, the return of all those who have been forcibly disappeared and if they are involved in any crime. They should be prosecuted under the law of Pakistan.
Ghulam Mustafa is a senior journalist and documentary filmmaker. In a career spanning more than two decades, he has worked for many national and international organizations. His documentaries have also won the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union and the Monte Carlo Award.