Ugly realities: Protestors have no rights

The arrest of over 200 protesters after brutal baton charging is not an acceptable solution in a civilised society.

Anwer Sumra May 21, 2012
Protests are a legitimate mode for citizens to convey their rightful demands to those sitting in the corridors of power. By using a combination of tact and skill the civil and police administrations can help avoid any embarrassment by discharging their basic duties. But time and again we hear of demonstrators facing mistreatment as the administration turns to brute force in quelling the protests.

The other day, the Punjab civil secretariat observed an ugly episode when protesters of the Population Welfare Department entered the premises to protest. They misbehaved and as a result, official paraphernalia was damaged. Fortunately, Chief Secretary Nasir Mehmood Khosa was not in his ransacked chamber but the government faced awkwardness over this fiasco. It was another ugly paradigm of poor governance witnessed in Punjab. The arrogant and selfish bureaucrats are primarily responsible for this debacle and the demeanour meted out to the sons and daughters of the Population Welfare Department.

Although handpicked junior bureaucrats negotiated with the protesters, they failed to fulfill their demands. To break the deadlock, the police swung their batons to disperse peaceful protesters. Female protesters were beaten up by male police officials and the secretariat looked like a battlefield. Senior officers derived pleasure from the event and subordinate workers enjoyed the circus while standing atop rooftops, taking pictures. The secretariat remained choked the whole day and no official work was done.

In addition to the administration’s failure to calm the  protesters down, the episode exposed the effectiveness of security measures deployed for the security of the premises. If such an important location was stormed by angry protesters then how can the police shield the common man and improve law and order? The arrest of over 200 protesters after brutal baton charging is not an acceptable solution in a civilised society.

This was the second such incident since Khosa’s posting as chief secretary. In the first incident on March 18, 2011, 73 officials were arrested when they gathered at the secretariat for a peaceful demonstration. They were suspended and put behind bars.

To avoid such incidents in the future, the administration must outline a comprehensive policy based on ground knowledge and merit, otherwise history will repeat itself.

Read more by Anwer here.
Anwer Sumra
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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