LODHRAN: Late last night the residents of Lodhran organized a protest against police brutality after the police invaded several homes in the area and mistreated the women of the homes. People blocked the Bahawalpur-Multan road, burnt tyres and chanted slogans against police brutality.
The protest continued till Railway Chowk. After a while, DSP Jamshed came and promised the protestors that a full investigation of this matter would take place and asked them to disperse. The protestors went back to their homes after an hour.
The Lodhran police had invaded a house late last night in search of a man claiming a narcotics bust.
The city police broke into Khadim Thaheem’s house under the pretext of his involvement in a narcotics case. Police claim that there are two FIR’s filed against Thaheem alleging that he is a drug dealer. However, the police had no search warrant; neither did they have an arrest warrant for Thaheem.
The police had come to his house the previous day but that time around had left as Thaheem was absent.
Not so last night, even Thaheem’s absence did not deter the police from entering his residence. At that time there were only four women present in the house. The police and some civilians that accompanied them manhandled the women, slapping and shoving them around.
A young girl was in the washroom; the police entered the washroom and physically and verbally abused her. On getting no information from the women as to Thaheem’s whereabouts, the police went to three other houses in the neighbourhood and continued their high handed behaviour. The police’s brutality lead the Lodhran residents to come out on the streets.
However, it seems that there is more to this story than meets the eyes. Locals say that one of the civilians who entered the different premises that night along with the police was a man named Riaz. Riaz has been in a legal battle with his brother Nazar over land. Nazar happens to be Thaheem’s brother-in-law.
Sources claim that Riaz seems to think that Nazar is highly influenced by Thaheem, and in order to break this influence and destroy the support Thaheem provides Nazar, Riaz had also filed a civil case against Thaheem. According to neighbours, Riaz and three unidentified men accompanied the police in this raid, invading the various homes.
Locals believe that this was another tactic employed by Riaz to bully Thaheem into submission.
City police SHO Akram Bhatti sees the matter quite differently. He said that the protest was just a reaction to the raid. DPO Agha Yousaf said that this entire protest was plain propaganda, people just wanted to block roads and no incidents of police mistreatment took place. He believes that people have fabricated a story to place the police in a poor light. Thaheem has not been located as yet.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2010.
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