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April 15, 2019

Paying for someone else’s crime


April 15, 2019

Islamabad : In a perplexing move the Islamabad Police, acting on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad, picked seven poor daily wage labourers from a construction site in Bani Gala on the charges of violating a ban imposed by the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration last Friday and send them to jail.

The ICT Administration recently imposed a ban on construction in the Bani Gala area to prevent illegal constructions in the Islamabad National Park area around Rawal Lake, which once used to be scenic surrounded by thick foliage and flowing meadows.

Last Saturday, (April 6, 2019) these six labourers were engaged for laying roof slab of a building being constructed by a local person. The police team from the Bani Gala Police Station, led by the Assistant Commissioner (Rural) raided the place and arrested the six labourers instead of the owner of the building!

This scribe contacted the Bani Gala Police as well as the AC (Rural), seeking information as to why the poor daily wage labourers were arrested while the owner of the building, who hired these men for a day’s job, was not touched, they failed to give any plausible reason.

However, when the Deputy Commissioner was contacted, he conceded that a mistake has been made in this regard but made no promise to take corrective measures and get these labourers released from jail.

Instead of releasing the poor labourers, the police hurriedly sent them to jail on judicial remand by the court of law. Now these six labourers are languishing in jail for the last one week and their families are helpless because neither they have money to engage a lawyer to get them released and exonerated of the crime nor they are aware as to whom to approach to get their family members released.

The legal experts when contacted by this scribe expressed surprise over the action of the Islamabad Police and the AC (Rural) because if there was a culprit in the whole scheme, then it was the owner of the building who was violating the ban imposed on any kind of constructions in Bani Gala area and not the labourers.

The whole thing would have gone un-noticed but a local person, who was an eye-witness to the incident decided to pursue the case and shared the details with this scribe. However, that gentleman is also not in a position to extend any further help to ensure release of these six labourers.

There are a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), which claim to offer free legal aid to such innocent persons who, because of the lacunas in the laws, get entangled in such situations. However, none has come to the fore to extend a helping hand to these six labourers to get release for committing the crime of working honestly to earn a living for their families.

The legal expert said that the fate of these six labourers is now completely in hands of Islamabad Police as to when they will decide to present them in the court of law and then whether the judge will be compensate enough to look into the matter in detail and exonerate them of the crime on one hand and order the police to arrest the actual culprit, the owner of the building, who was violating the law.

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