MANSEHRA/GILGIT: Abbottabad police on Tuesday registered a murder case against four police officials for allegedly torturing a man in custody who later died in a local hospital, District Police Officer Ch Ahsan Saifullah said on Tuesday.
The move came after the family of the man continued to block the Karakoram Highway for several hours on Tuesday while a strong reaction came from his native Gilgit-Baltistan.
Police had arrested 33-year-old Ghulam Hussain on February 21 for his alleged involvement in a robbery. Hussain, a resident of Bissiyan Balakot though originally hailing from the Peech Bela village in Kohistan, was kept in police custody for four days before a magistrate sent him on judicial remand.
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Mansehra Jail officials said that since Hussain and his co-accused Farzaman were injured, they were first sent to the King Abdullah Teaching Hospital. But when his condition deteriorated on March 5, he was transferred to the Ayub Teaching Hospital where he died the next morning.
Hussain’s elder brother Shabir Ahmed had claimed that the doctors at either hospital did not provide adequate medical treatment to his brother, leading to his death. Moreover, he accused the police of torturing his brother leading to his adverse situation.
However, hospital officials and police, Hussain died of renal failure as when he was brought to the hospital his kidneys were almost non-functional and his dialysis was to be carried out on March 6.
Enraged by the police attitude towards Hussain’s death, his family first blocked the KKH for three hours outside the ATH by placing his dead body on the road on Monday evening.
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On Tuesday morning, when Hussain’s family along with hundreds of villagers gathered near Sunehri Masjid to offer his funeral prayers, they started raising slogans against the police. They took Hussain’s body to the Mansehra bypass, placed the body in the middle of the KKH and started protesting.
Led by Sunehri Masjid in charge Maulana Faizul Bari, the protesters accused the Balakot police of torturing Hussain and three others after getting a bribe from Hussain’s rivals.
They demanded that the district police book the police officers responsible for allegedly torturing Hussain.
The protesters kept the busy KKH blocked for over five hours.
Later, Mansehra DPO negotiated with the representatives of protesters and assured them that they would register cases against the police officials responsible.
Following the DPO’s assurances, the blockade ended as most of the protesters dispersed.
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However, some protesters continued to block the road.
When asked to clear the road, they pelted the police with stones forcing the police to resort to baton charging the protesters and firing tear gas at them.
The protesters finally dispersed but the road remained blocked for the next two hours after traffic police could not regulate the heavy traffic which had been queued for hours.
Meanwhile, DPO Mansehra Ch Ahsan Saifullah confirmed that they had registered a case under section 302, 109/34 of the PPC against Balakot DSP Mukhtiyar Shah, Inspector Investigation Ali Akbar Khan, Balakot SHO Inspector Sajjad Khan, Constable Zahid and two civilians Sultan and Tajuddin, who were accused of paying a bribe to the police.
Condemnation from Gilgit
As news of Hussain’s death precipitated by alleged torture by police spread, residents in his native Gilgit-Baltistan condemned Balakot police.
“The investigation officer must be arrested and taken to task for killing an innocent man,” said Hafizullah, a resident from Chilas in Diamer.
“There are reports Balakot SP received money from opponents, this must be checked,” he added.
Hussain Ahmed, another resident, posted on Facebook that Hussain’s death was due to ‘police terrorism’.
“We demand that the federal government take strict action against the police,” Ahmed wrote.
Wajahat Khan wrote that the death of a G-B youth at the hands of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) police had exposed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s claims that K-P police had been made exemplary.
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