FAISALABAD: MPA Rana Abdul Rehman was accused of torturing and shaving the heads, moustaches and eyebrows of over 25 people in Kharrianwala on Tuesday.
According to police officials, land owners discovered that wheat crop was being stolen and apprehended four men on suspicion of stealing the crop. “They took nearly 30 of us to the MPAs dera where the panchayat had gathered and threatened that they would torture us if we did not confess to the crime,” said Rashid Masih.
The victims said that the panchayat already suspected four men of having committed the crime but when only two admitted to it the rest were punished for not identifying the culprit. The panchayat accused the men of stealing nearly 12 tonnes of wheat from the MPA’s lands.
“They kept telling us to point out who had done it and we had no clue, that was when several men started beating us and the panchayat ordered that we all should be taught ‘a lesson’ for our silence,” said Mohammad Ashraf Yaar.
The men said that they were seated in front of the panchayat and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Abdul Rehman and one by one their beards, heads and eye brows were shaved. “They took the four men who they suspected to a separate room and beat them before handing them over to the police,” Yaar said.
According to police officials, two of the men admitted to the crime. “When we got here the rest of the men had already been let go but they did tell us that they had been punished for no reason. We are looking to verify the story,” said superintendent police (SP) Attar Waheed.
After being released, the men protested and told reporters that they had been tortured and shamed for no reason. The men said that the panchayat also said that they would blacken the men’s faces but eventually let them off when the police arrived on the scene.
“We didn’t know who the culprit was and we work hard all day to cultivate this wheat. We were punished for no reason,” said Abdul Ghaffar, adding “MPA Rehman watched the entire thing, in one case he even participated in shaving off a man’s eyebrows.”
Ghaffar and Ejaz Masih said that the MPA had personally witnessed the incident and had also helped administer the punishment.
On the other hand, MPA Rehman said that the men were caught stealing wheat and the accused were immediately handed over to the police. “No torture of any kind took place, we caught the men and called the police. I have no hand in the other men’s heads being shaved off I was not there,” he said.
SP Attar Waheed said that the police had registered cases against the four accused under Section-380 of the CRPC. “We are separately investigating the complaints of the rest of the men who have said that they will protest their treatment,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.
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