LAHORE: The past week has been a challenging time for the top brass of the Punjab police as they suddenly found themselves thrust into the spotlight. Officials grappled with an increasing number of police brutality cases and struggled to ensure SOPs for Muharram.
This can be ascertained from the fact that at the RPO conference called to discuss the security plan for Muharram, Punjab Police Inspector General (IGP) Arif Nawaz Khan deemed police torture cases as the top agenda. In addition to the cases that were reported in the provincial metropolis during the past week, on Sunday another incident was reported in Vehari where a woman was tortured by police at a private cell.
It should be noted that the first ten days of Muharram are a hectic time for the police as officials have to ensure law and order while on duty for thousands of religious gatherings and processions.
Multiple incidents of police brutality surfaced in the past week. These included a custodial death reported by North Cantonment police, the death of a victim recovered from a private torture cell in Gujjarpura and an assistant sub inspector (ASI) ‘misbehaving’ with an elderly woman outside the Central Police Office. And these were just the cases reported in the provincial capital.
On Sunday, the autopsy report of Amir Maseeh, who died after allegedly being tortured by investigation officers of North Cantonment police station, revealed that the victim was brutalised to death. The victim’s arms, legs, back and feet bore torture marks while his ribs were also fractured. During this time, CCTV footage of policemen in civvies transporting the victim to the hospital also surfaced. In the video, officials kick the victim after he falls from the motorcycle. In the aftermath of the incident, an FIR has been registered against the officers involved while some have been arrested.
Further, an ASI deputed to man the gate at the IG’s office was caught on camera ‘misbehaving’ with an elderly women.
The official in question was suspended and an FIR was registered against him.
Meanwhile, a man who was recovered from a private police torture cell in Gujjarpura died at the hospital during the week.
The victim’s family alleged the victim died as a result of the injuries inflicted on him by the officials. On the other hand, police claim the victim died due to a cardiac arrest.
Police brutality cases were not the only reason officials made headlines this week. A few days ago, lady Constable Faiza Nawaz was allegedly tortured by Advocate Ahmed Mukhtar at Ferozwala court over a parking dispute.
It was only after the victim protested before senior officials that an FIR was registered and the suspect was presented before the court. However, the suspect was released on bail. This caused an uproar on social media which came out in support of the female official.
A student of grade ten, identified as Hafiz Hunain, died after allegedly being beaten by his teacher at a private school in Gulshan-e-Ravi.
Moreover, three members of a family were killed in a building collapse after an oxygen cylinder exploded in Iqbal Town. The rescue operation took at least 11 hours to complete.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2019.