There is a bottomless well of depravity and cruelty that pervades some strata of the national mindset, and it is nowhere more apparent than in the master-servant relationship and relations between feudal landlords and their subjects. Reports that a 10-year-old boy had both his arms severed in a threshing machine having already been beaten and doused with scalding water, are just the latest in a long line of cruelties. The child was abused and mutilated because of a dispute between his father and their landlord. The landlord was demanding Rs5,000 ‘rent’ for an electricity wire that crossed his property. The two men had an argument. Nasir Iqbal refused to pay and when his son Tabassum went to bathe at a tube well on the property of the landlord Ghulam Mustafa, his fate was sealed. Tabassum tried to hide in the field but was caught and his arms cut off in a threshing machine.
Ghulam Mustafa took the child to Aziz Bhatti Hospital and is said to have offered a transfusion of his own blood, whilst trying to cover up the true nature of the incident. Tabassum’s father tried to register a case but the police were uncooperative and it was not until the media were informed that events took a more positive turn. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has now visited the child, reprimanded police officials, and dismissed the ASP and the DSP and the medical superintendant of the hospital. Ghulam Mustafa has been arrested, put before an anti-terrorism court and sent on 10-day physical remand. He is on record having said he ‘did not do it intentionally’. It will be for a court to determine his guilt or innocence but the point in this instance is that due process was not enacted before the intervention of the chief minister. This is knee-jerk justice that is celebrity driven, rather than the common-or-garden justice that the ordinary man might expect. We wish Tabassum a speedy recovery and the equally speedy dispensation of justice to Ghulam Mustafa.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2014.
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