If there is any entity that seems to have been given a free hand to do whatever it pleases in this country without facing legal ramifications, it is the police. It is no secret that when it comes to questioning suspects, police forces across the land often seem to lose their senses in exercising any empathy and the rule of law to elicit testimonies. A case of police torture and brutality in Haripur, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, (K-P) not long ago led one young man, a former candidate for local government elections, to take his life. The 28-year-old’s misfortune was that he was the brother of a robbery suspect, and while trying to track down the latter, the police took into custody and tortured the unfortunate victim. He eventually resorted to committing suicide, extremely distressed as he was by the treatment meted out to him.
While the provincial PTI government is always ready to boast of the upgraded police infrastructure and FIR systems in K-P, we have here an example of the kind of police brutality in the province that one regularly witnesses in other parts of the country as well. The party claims that the K-P police force is the best in the country and is depoliticised, but these ever-so-prevalent medieval ways of policing refute such claims. There are two underlying points of contention of the unbecoming behaviour by the police in this tragic incident. The first is the problem of police bullying and just how much unnecessary physical, emotional and mental trauma it can cause suspects. Secondly, should persons associated with a prime suspect be presumed guilty just by association, without due process? Interrogation to gather details about a case can be achieved without manhandling and torture by the police, which is a breach of basic rights. Law-enforcement agencies should instead invest in forensic investigators and psychologists to collect information. All provincial and federal governments need to implement and enforce all basic protocols for police forces to follow, such as requiring warrants for search and arrest. Individual officers must be taken to task and dismissed if they cannot treat suspects as human beings.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2015.
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