Declaration on torture cells made mandatory in Punjab

Published: September 11, 2019
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LAHORE: Punjab chief minister’s spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill on Wednesday informed the media that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had directed that every deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and district police officer (DPO) in the province would be required to submit an affidavit proclaiming that there was no torture cell within their domain.

The orders had been issued after several cases of suspects dying in the custody of Punjab police came to the fore due to alleged torture.

Addressing a news conference in Lahore, Gill said if an incident of torture occurred after the submission of the affidavit, a first information report (FIR) would be lodged against the concerned DPO and DSP instead of police officers and sub-inspectors as was normally done.

He said in order to address the complaints regarding police torture, the chief minister had expressed a desire to form an independent board.

In case of an incident taking place, media persons, school teachers and people from different walks of life would be included in the board, he declared.

The spokesman said that the body being instituted would independently investigate the incident.

Gill said that fixing the police was a “very difficult job”.

He also highlighted the steps the Punjab government was taking to change the way police interacted with the public.

He said that a public relations officer would be appointed inside police station whose only job would be to work on personal relationships.

The spokesperson informed the media that a complaint box would be installed near police stations which would be opened once a month by the RPO and DPO and the stations would then be rated on the basis of people’s complaints.

Gill said that through Buzdar, Prime Minister Imran Khan had delivered a message to the service-related institutions of Punjab, at the very top of which was the police.

“The premier had a very clear message that police are for the service of the people,” Gill said, adding that the purpose of police was not to torture people or run torture cells.

Earlier, Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan had also stated that FIRs would be registered against the concerned DPO, DSP and station house officer (SHO) in the case of torture or death in police custody, while the SHO involved in such incidents would be blacklisted for posting at any police station.

Custodial deaths

At least three people had died allegedly by police torture, and videos of some suspects had gone viral on social media.

On September 1, Salahuddin Ayubi, a man who was said to be mentally challenged, had died in police custody in Rahim Yar Khan. On the same day, a middle-aged man had passed away in Lahore after allegedly being tortured by Gujjarpura police in an illegal torture cell that was discovered last month.

Reports also emerged that a gardener named Amir Masih had died after being illegally detained in an alleged police torture cell in Lahore.

CM Buzdar meets PM Imran

Punjab Chief Minister Uzman Buzdar met Prime Minister Imran Khan at PM office in Islamabad.

The chief minister apprised the premier of the reforms being undertaken in Punjab police.

Sources quoted PM Imran as saying that police and citizens had a daily contact and the job of police was to serve people and not to intimidate them.

Buzdar told the premier that online monitoring of police stations had been started. The chief minister further said that the justice system was being improved and provision of resources to officials and stations being prioritised.

PM Imran directed Buzdar to take action against black sheep hidden in the police department and ordered him to expedite the reforms process.

The chief minister also briefed the premier on the performance of provincial departments.

With additional input from our Islamabad correspondent

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