LAHORE: Two police officers were suspended on Sunday after the chief minister took note of the kidnap and torture of a young man in Sabzazar police jurisdiction in a case that generated much media attention, but about which few facts were established.
Basharat, a resident of Kharak, was grabbed from near his house by four men on Friday night, blindfolded and taken to a secret location where he was beaten with belts and sticks, said his father Muhammad Ehsan.
He said that three of the four men were police officials and they had been demanding that Basharat confess to abducting nine children in Lahore. He named a sub inspector and an assistant sub inspector as having been involved and the two were later suspended.
Ehsan said that the incident was orchestrated by a man named Imran who had been forced out of the neighbourhood a while ago because he had a “bad character”. He said that Imran held a grudge against them because of this and he was behind a “false” robbery case against Basharat.
He said that Basharat, bloodied and bruised, was later left outside the house. He said Basharat’s attackers contacted him and warned him to keep quiet on the subject. He later called 15 and informed the police of the incident.
Sabzazar Station House Officer Sheikh Muhammad Anwar said that Basharat was taken to Mughal Cafe in Nawankot where he was held and tortured. He said Basharat was also beaten up on the streets.
He said Rescue 15 got a call from a man named Asim who reported seeing a man being beaten up by a large crowd of people at Medina Chowk. He said the head of the gang was named MA Imran.
Sub Inspector Ishaq, the investigation officer for the case, said that an FIR had been registered against Imran, Omer (the owner of Mughal Cafe) and five unidentified people on Basharat’s complaint. He said that SHO Anwar and Sub Inspector Abdur Razzaq, responding to the 15 call, had taken Basharat to the hospital.
He said that there was no evidence of police involvement in the attack. He said that Basharat was not 15, as his father had claimed, but more like 19 or 20.
Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar said that action would be taken against any police officers found to have been involved in the attack. He said that an inquiry was being conducted.
Basharat’s abduction and torture was a big story on television news channels, and images of his swollen face and bruised body were aired all day. Samiullah, the PPP Punjab secretary general, and several workers visited Basharat’s residence and staged a protest demanding that the government take appropriate action against the culprits.
The chief minister took notice and directed the police to take action, following which SI Ishfaq and ASI Qaiser were suspended. Ehsan had told police they were involved in the attack. However, police sources said they had nothing to do with the attack and would likely return to duty soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2011.