A 16-year-old implicated in a theft case was severely tortured and set on fire by police officials on Saturday.
Dozens of people protested against the incident outside the police station on Saturday evening and said that Nishatabad police had held Azeem illegally on theft charges four days ago.
“They just took him without any justification and held him indefinitely. We had no word of his condition and we heard that he was being tortured,” said Azeem’s uncle Haris Khan.
During the interrogation, the accused was severely tortured and a police source told reporters that the boy had been strung up from the ceiling and whipped. “When he refused to admit to the crime, they sprinkled petrol on him and set him on fire,” he said. Police officials tried to get Azeem to confess to being part of a motorcycle-lifters’ gang but he refused. “The gang has been lifting dozens of bikes in the city and three of the bikes belong to police officials at this station,” the source said.
Azeem was shifted to Allied Hospital in critical condition and doctors have said that the boy has suffered over 35 per cent burns to his body. “He is in critical condition and has suffered third degree burns. His condition is worse because he already had open wounds because of the whipping. The wounds have festered,” Dr Azam Shah said.
Azeem told reporters that he belonged to a poor family and had no source of income. He said that he had been falsely implicated in two motorcycle lifting cases. “They wanted me to confess to crimes I hadn’t committed. They even said that I should admit to them if I hadn’t done anything because at this point it would ‘look bad for them’ to let me go,” he told reporters before he collapsed at the hospital. The district police officer (DPO) Rao Tahir Hussain said that he had taken notice of the tragic incident and launched an inquiry. “I have ordered the suspension of assistant superintendent (ASI) Saeed Anwar for setting fire to the boy. This is unforgivable and we are also looking into anyone else who may have been involved,” he said.
A formal inquiry has been ordered and Superintendent Police (SP) Madina Town Samad Qamar has been asked to file a report in this regard within 48 hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2011.
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