Mumtazabad police on Monday booked 300 people under the Anti-Terrorism Act for beating up policemen during a protest late Sunday night.
Agitated citizens had stormed the police station in protest against the death of a gambling suspect, Muhammad Akram, allegedly due to police torture in the lock-up. The police had arrested 11 people including Muhammad Akram from Thema Wali area over gambling charges.
The relatives and neigbhours of the deceased had beaten up seven police officials on Sunday night including the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Gulgasht, Tanveer Bhatti, the SHO Lohari Gate, Jamshed Akram, the SHO Setal Mandi, Akhtar Shah, ASI Muhammad Ashiq and Constable Tariq.
Reportedly the protestors also tried to set the police station on fire when the policemen, in an attempt to stop them, fired tear gas shells towards them.
This outraged the mob and they attacked the police officials, beating them with sticks. The protestors dragged DSP Bhatti and tore his uniform. They pelted stones on the officials and damaged police station property.
Earlier, they burnt tyres and blocked the main road outside the police station for three hours, causing inconvenience to commuters.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Muhammad Arshad, Akram’s nephew, alleged that Akram was tortured by police officials, which caused his death. The station house officer, Megr Gulzar, rejected the allegation. He said that Akram died of a heart attack.
Elite force officials had to be called in to disperse the protestors.
After hearing about the incident, Sultan Rana, the Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) and MNA Mehmoodul Hasan also reached the scene.
The SSP (Operations) told the press that Akram’s death would be investigated in a transparent manner. He said that if policemen’s involvement was proved, strict action would be taken against them.
Akram’s relatives earlier placed his body opposite the prime minister’s house and blocked the road for several hours in protest. They demanded that the Mumtazabad police officials be prosecuted under murder charges. The protestors ended the blockade after several PPP office bearers reached the spot and assured them of action against the policemen involved in the incident.
Akram’s autopsy was conducted at the Nishtar Hospital. Talking to the media after the autopsy, Dr Imtiaz Elahi, the Nishtar Hospital medical superintendent, said that chemical enzymes’ samples have been sent to the Pathology Department in Lahore. Any decision about torture, he said, could only be taken on the basis of the findings of the tests.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2010.
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