Police brutality: Should we now fear the very people sworn to protect us?
Pakistan is no stranger to police brutality in the past. However, recent incidents of Punjab police’s rampant attacks on helpless civilians has sparked outrage. Police reforms are nowhere to be seen or implemented and citizens have all but lost trust in the very people who have been sworn to protect them.
Police brutality takes Salahuddin’s life
While being tortured by the police, Salahuddin Ayubi asked his tormentors, “Who taught you these torture techniques?”
Ayubi, who had been arrested for stealing money from an ATM machine, died in police custody two days after his arrest. Unfortunately, this case of police brutality is not an isolated incident. Pakistan has seen a troubling rise in the number of people who are not only subjected to police brutality but also die as a result.
While Police claims #Salahuddin died due to cardiac arrest and is quoting a senior doctor as saying there were no torture marks without sharing the actual report the pictures taken by Salahuddin's family of his body before burial are harrowing. pic.twitter.com/OpHjAopAOe
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) September 3, 2019
DSP, SHO among eight policemen arrested in woman torture case in Vehari
Moreover, eight policemen among 13 accused persons were arrested on Sunday as Regional Police Officer (RPO) took notice of alleged torture of a woman in their custody in Vehari’s Ladan police station.
Upon RPO Waseem Ahmed’s directives, a case has been lodged against deputy superintendent of police (DSP), station house officer (SHO), CIA in-charge and muhrar amongst eight policemen under sections 354, 337 and 342.
Vehari’s SP Investigation carried out an initial probe into the incident. Meanwhile, police have been raiding suspected hideouts to arrest other suspects involved in the matter.
The woman had told the media that she was electrocuted and beaten in a torture cell, and later police officials hanged her on stairs.
She was accused of robbery by a landlord when police took her to the torture cell.
Police baton charge devotees at Pakpattan’s Baba Farid Shrine
Another case of police brutality came out of Pakpattan on the eve of Baba Farid urs.
Pakpattan police have found themselves embroiled in yet another controversy after a video of baton charging devotees surfaced early Monday morning.
In the video, the policemen and some men in plain clothes can be seen baton charging people at the shrine of Baba Fariuddin. Many people fainted, while some received minor injuries.
People at the shrine claimed that the police were pushing people away to make space for VIPs.
They [some policemen] brought many people to the shrine in private vehicles. They didn’t want other people around when the VIPs were visiting. “This a just a part of the country’s VIP culture,” said a person at the shrine.
Lahore: Father of two, Amir Maseeh died in another case of Police Brutality
Amir Masih allegedly succumbed to torture injuries a day after he was left helpless and alone to die at Lahore’s hospital by the policemen. The video of the policemen kicking severely injured Amir Masih went viral on social media.
The two police plainclothes officers who brought him to hospital kept beating him and then tried to get him admitted forcefully but when they failed, they took him back and later he died.
Talking to the media, the brother of the deceased demanded to bring culprits to justice. He added, “Give them exemplary punishment so that what happened with Amir Maseeh, should not happen to anyone else.”
Rickshaw driver was beaten by Punjab Police
— BOL NETWORK (@BOLNETWORK) September 9, 2019
Furthermore, on April 3, 2019, a video of Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) Addition Inspector General (AIG) Kamran Fazal went viral in which he is shown harassing a family. He along with his guards stopped a family vehicle and started harassing them and slapped the woman on making a video on a mobile phone. They took her phone and tried to delete the video but a crowd gathered and they were forced to return the device.
Where is the Chief Minister of Punjab, Usman Buzdar? Where is the champion and Minister of Human Rights, Shireen Mazari? Why is PTI unable to make any headway with regards to police reforms? Has the government lost complete control over this situation? The people need an answer!
The failure of the PTI and Punjab Government is crystal clear for everyone to see.
In light of the recent reports and media attention about police brutality, violence and misbehaviour, Punjab Police has taken swift action… The IG has banned mobile phones with cameras from police stations. … 😑😑😑
— Hasan Zaidi (@hyzaidi) September 9, 2019
The manner in which the police interact with those who are in police custody is no secret. According to a report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) titled ‘This Crooked System’,
“Human Rights Watch discovered that such practices include custodial beatings, by hand or with batons and littars (strips of leather), the stretching and crushing of detainees’ legs with roola (metal rods), sexual violence, prolonged sleep deprivation, and mental torture, including forcing detainees to witness the torture of others. Custodial deaths resulting from torture are not uncommon. Former detainees often reported long-lasting effects including physical pain, disability, and mental stress.”
How do we tackle this? Firstly, the powers of the police must be clearly defined so as to benefit the citizens and not intimidate them. Citizens must be allowed to feel that the police is their first contact point in distress and emergencies, not the last. Connivance, bribery, obstruction of justice, illegal kickbacks, kidnapping, torture under detention, are problems which still remain deeply embedded in our police department. These issues are further exacerbated by the politicization of the police force, where politicians and bureaucrats use their influence to dictate what the police department pays attention to or ignores.
Providing justice was why the PTI was founded. One year down, there is no commission on the Sahiwal killings. The FIA has asked to close the Asghar Khan case. Model Town remains frozen. And Punjab police reforms (with this latest custodial death) are going nowhere.
— Asad Rahim Khan (@AsadRahim) September 3, 2019