In this case, how not to ‘remove barriers and clear no-go areas’, in Model Town, Lahore! I mean, really, the mind reels at the crass stupidity and the cold-heartedness of the Lahore Puls (as it is popularly known) leadership. And at the complete lack of training and discipline if scenes of the brutish looking policemen firing indiscriminately into the small crowd that was ‘protecting’ their cult’s HQs; and mercilessly beating up young kids and old men, and women, are anything to go by.
The sad tally of this idiotic but cruel foray is 11 dead so far including two young women, both with two and three little children and, reportedly tens others injured, some grievously. The optics of the pain and tragedy suffered by seemingly unarmed people were terrible, moving me to tears many times over the past two days. It was disgusting.
Indeed, as was the sight of a super-mustachioed goon, said to be one Gulloo Butt, leading a police charge wielding a huge danda with which he then proceeded to smash cars parked outside Dr Tahirul Qadri’s establishment in plain view of the police. This lout was also seen offering drinks to the mob of policemen, including a superintendent of police. The newly appointed IG of Punjab has confirmed him to be a police informer aka ‘stool pigeon’ (short: stoolie) in Americanese: a criminal who gives the police information about other criminals.
Now then, there are very many aspect of this, what shall I call it, catastrophe’ for it is nothing less, or else. Just as the country was gearing up to come together to stand behind our valiant armed forces as they entered a crucial phase in the battle for the country’s very survival; just as the tensions between the ‘institutions’ and the elected government were coming down to a gentle simmer, the Punjab Puls goes and pulls this one off on the country, indeed on the elected leaders it is supposed to serve, not harm.
Many out-of-work politicians, leaders of one and two-man parties, who were baying for the government’s blood but had quietened down, are now in full cry threatening ‘revolution’, the likes of Chaudhrys Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahi and Cohort: Shiekh Rashid ‘Talli’ and Mushahid ‘Mandela’ Hussain included. I ask you! ‘Revolutionaries’ who have served every dictator that came along being handed an opportunity even they could not have dreamed of.
The media, too, has gone overboard, even comparing this tragedy with that of Jallianwala Bagh. Shows you the extents the media, especially the electronic media, will go to for the sake of ratings and to stir the pot even more. Some senior media men are calling it the final nail in the coffin of an objective media. But again: stand up Punjab Puls!
The social media is loud with calls for immediate retribution, even hanging the policemen in public squares immediately if not sooner. There is no thought about the law and Constitution and the rights enjoyed by public servants, be they from the Puls. Even appreciating the chief minister’s sacking of the two highest officials of the Lahore police has been pilloried as flattery, I myself am coming in for flak from scores of out-of-work foul-mouthed trolls who had nothing to troll about just two days ago, especially in view of the PTI’s U-turn on drone strikes and the ongoing operation in North Waziristan. Stand up, again, Lahore Puls!
Nor is anyone willing to listen to suggestions of comparing governance in Punjab to the other provinces. It is as if whatever hard work Shahbaz Sharif has done for the province has been brought to naught because of the Model Town catastrophe, and that he is to be judged by it alone. Very few will look at the forced conversion of Hindu girls or the destruction of Sikh and Hindu temples and absolutely no administrative action. Indeed of the daily mayhem in Karachi.
No one is willing to listen to the argument that no politician could be mindless enough to order the police to kill wantonly, specially the followers of a fringe preacher who has already tried his antics once before (in better weather!) and was chased out of Islamabad when the crowd had nowhere to go to relieve themselves on the second day of the Dharna in Blue Area. What could he have done in the searing heat of a Pakistani June? Take a bow, Lahore Puls!
Which straightaway brings me to the matter of dealing with the fallout of the ‘raid’ on an emergency basis. Could someone for starters, immediately take administrative action against the police for not simply (and sensibly) withdrawing when they were allegedly brick-batted by TuQ’s ‘militia’ at midnight on the night of June 17/18 and taken the staff of the City District Government with it. Why could the ‘operation’ not have been carried out in the morning WITHOUT the leadership of the super-mustachioed lout? And his violent acts in plain view of TV and mobile-phone cameras?
Those responsible must be dismissed from service after summary inquiries by the many good officers the Punjab police have. They are well known, even if they are not in the good graces of Rana Sanaullah, who is making matters worse by mouthing off inanities. He should rather be looking into charges that the Puls is busy trying to have the medico-legal reports of those poor things killed or injured in the murderous fracas altered. And to show that policemen injured by bricks were shot. This is adding insult to injury and must be put down with force.
DSP Phularwan (yes that is his name), caught on TV doing his shenanigans at the Jinnah hospital and already suspended by the IG should be dismissed from service, as should the other police officers caught In flagrante delicto, in the pursuit of the aim of forging medico-legal documents.
Firm action by the chief minister immediately, if not sooner is the only way of easing the hurt and the anguish that many of us feel. Democracy forever!
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2014.