Misuse of power: Police ‘manhandle’ blind protesters

Police deny torture, say only pushing and shoving occurred


Hassan Naqvi December 04, 2014

LAHORE:


Punjab police on Wednesday allegedly tortured blind people, who were demanding an increase in their job quota at government departments.


These people, including some highly qualified individuals, were protesting outside the Lahore Press Club since morning. However, according to some media reports, the police allegedly manhandled and baton-charged them when they tried to move towards the Chief Minister House on the Mall Road.

Talking to The Express Tribune one of the protesters said: “We were protesting for our right to get jobs in the government sector and to get our quota increased from 2 per cent but the police tortured us.”

“Police is patronising hooligans of ‘Gullu Butt’ sort,” said another protester.

However, the SP Civil Lines Imtiaz Sarwar said nobody was baton-charged and the police only tried to stop protestors from entering the Mall Road.

“The police officials were more in number and had made up a human wall. There was, however, some pushing and shoving as the protesters tried to pass through us but nobody was tortured or baton-charged,” he said, adding that the presidential convoy was also to cross the Mall Road.

A police constable told The Express Tribune that the protesters misbehaved with them and called them ‘Gullu Butt’. “We only tried to stop them and some were pushed during the process as we were trying to stop them from entering the Mall Road,” he said.

DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said the blind people were protesting since morning and the police facilitated them by arranging their meetings with the department concerned so that their issue could be addressed.

Ashraf said five police officials were suspended after the incident. “An action will be taken against them if they are found guilty of torture. We condemn every kind of torture on citizens,” he added. Punjab government’s spokesperson Syed Zaeem Hussain Qadri also denied the report of some TV channels who claimed that the protesters were baton-charged.

“There is a court ruling that Mall Road cannot be blocked for protests so police had to stop them from moving to that thoroughfare. But still if they are found guilty of torturing the blind persons a strict action will be taken,” he said.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and asked the DIG Operations to submit a report.

It may be noted that the protesters continued their protest at Club Road Chowk till late in the evening and dispersed only after DCO Lahore Captain (retd) Muhammad Usman had a successful round of negotiation with them.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2014.

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