ABBOTABAD: A woman was hospitalised after allegedly subjected to severe torture by the police here on Sunday. The woman, belonging to Christian religious minority, is five months pregnant. The doctors at Benazir Bhutto Hospital Abbottabad said the foetus was in danger due to the precarious condition of the woman.
Salma Emmanuel, 30, a resident of Kunj Jadeed Mohalla (New Kunj new locality), Abbottabad, told a group of local reporters that she had been working as a maid at Ghazal Riaz’s house for the last over one year. Two days back, she brought eight tolas (100 grams) of gold ornaments from her home and requested Riaz to keep them for safety reasons. However, the very next day Riaz informed Salma by phone that some burglars had entered her house and taken away Rs900,000 cash, 24 tolas (300 grams) of gold ornaments including Salma’s, and a laptop. “Ms Riaz called me and my husband to her house; when I entered the house, some police personnel were also there with sniffer dogs,” Salma said. Her husband, Emmanuel, entered the house for the first time in a year, but the sniffer dogs repeatedly went towards him, after which the police arrested him and took him to an unidentified place.
The same afternoon, Salma said, a police party picked her up from her house and took to the City Police Station where Inspector Nazia and two female subordinates punched, kicked and beat her with canes for three hours straight, forcing her to confess that she and her husband were involved in the robbery.
According to the victim, she was subjected to severe torture by the women police personnel as she refused to confess the crime under duress as she was innocent. She told the media that when her condition deteriorated, the police officer called one of her male relatives and sent her home with him, where her condition worsened. Her family members then took her to Benazir Shaheed (formerly District Headquarters) Hospital.
The medical officer on duty, Dr Tahir Habib, confirmed that the woman’s body bore marks of torture and her foetus was also in danger due to the her critical condition.
When approached for comment, Deputy Superintendent of Police Aziz Afridi confirmed that the woman was picked up with her husband on suspicion of their involvement in the robbery, but he rejected the allegation that she had been tortured by the police personnel.
City Police Station House Officer Ashiq Hussain also confirmed the report of Salma’s detention but brushed aside the allegation that she had been beaten up there, adding that she was handed over to women police personnel for interrogation.
Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of Haraza Division Dr Naeem Khan has ordered a probe into the incident.
Meanwhile, Adeel Ahmed, a programme coordinator for Hazara-based NGO Human Development Organisation working against torture, has condemned the torture of the woman and demanded registration of a criminal case against the errant police personnel. According to Ahmed, detention-related abuses against citizens were rampant in Hazara and despite the fact the government has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, the perpetrators are not taken to task. He also demanded treatment and compensation for the torture victim.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 7th, 2011.