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Thursday June 13, 2024

Despite govt claims, Punjab Police excesses continue

By Mian Inamul Haq & Agencies
September 09, 2019

LAHORE: Even after passage of over a year in power in Punjab, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led coalition government has failed to bring about any reforms in the Police Department or change “thana culture” in the province.

During the last one week or so, at least five incidents of police excesses, deaths in custody or torture of citizens were reported in various cities of the province, including Pakpattan, Lahore, Kasur, Multan, Ferozewala, etc.

In the Lahore incident, CCTV footage had surfaced on the social media in which police officers in civvies were seen beating, kicking and dragging one Amir Masih in front of a hospital. The post-mortem report of the victim showed he was subjected to brutal torture in police custody. The report confirmed torture marks on Amir’s hands, back and arms with some broken ribs.Police have taken investigation officer Zeeshan, investigation in-charge Nasir Baig and complainant Rana Haneef into custody.

Police had reportedly shifted Amir Masih to a private hospital four days after his arrest in a critical condition. The footage showed policemen in plainclothes kicking the victim as he fell on the ground before being dragged into the medical facility.

VEHARI: The latest incident took place in Vehari where a woman servant was tortured by the police at a private interrogation centre. After getting information, the district police arrested DSP Tariq Parvez, SHO police station Luddan Arif Shah, in-charge CIA Amjad Khan, Muharrar police station Luddan, two sons of the landlord Ayaz Khan and a servant on charges of torturing the domestic help on gold theft charges. Police are conducting raids to arrest other accused, Ayaz Khan, his two servants, Inspector Muhammad Tahir and ASI Muhammad for allegedly torturing woman, Zahoor Elahi.

According to police report, Ayaz Khan, a renowned politician, lodged a gold theft complaint with Luddan police station. Police started investigation and called woman servant Zahoor Elahi and her husband Muhammad Yar, as their mobile locations were traced at the place of theft during technical investigations.

However, on Sept 5 a local journalist reported that police tortured the woman at a private torture cell in Luddan. On Sept 7, Regional Police Officer (RPO) Waseem Ahmad visited the home of victim in Vehari. He deputed SP Investigation Kausar Parveen to investigate the matter. In the light of initial report, a case was registered under Section 354/337K, 342/452/365 and 155C against all 13 accused. The tortured woman was also admitted to District Headquarters Hospital for medical treatment. DHQ Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Fazal also confirmed torture of the woman servant.

Two Luddan police station officers, ASI Tahir Chohan and ASI Haji Younas, had arrested Zahoor Elahi of Mohallah Imambargah and tortured her in gold theft case. The victim alleged that after torture, her condition deteriorated, the policemen dropped her at her home to avoid any action.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has taken notice of the incident and sought a report from the police concerned in 48 hours. He ordered for taking departmental and legal action against the accused policemen.

PAKPATTAN: A police sub-inspector was suspended after his video of roughing up an elderly man at Pakpattan shrine went viral. Sub-Inspector Aijaz Ahmed was suspended on Sunday by the Pakpattan DPO and an internal inquiry was ordered against him. He was at the shrine of Hazrat Baba Fariduddin when an elderly man tried to enter the line specified for some VIPs. The policeman grabbed him by his collar and pushed him into the other line.

FEROZEWALA: The woman constable, who was slapped in public by a lawyer, resigned on Sunday, saying she was "really fed up with this unjust cruel system". In a video statement, Constable Faiza Nawaz said she was resigning from her post in Punjab Police as she did not see herself getting any justice in the case of verbal and physical abuse by Ahmed Mukhtar Advocate.

Ferozewala lawyer fraternity, as well as their peers in the Sheikhupura district, had boycotted the bars and legal proceedings on Saturday in favour of their fellow lawyer, Ahmed Mukhtar Advocate. "I can't see myself getting justice in this regard... lawyer brethren are engaging in my character assassination," Faiza Nawaz said in her statement, adding that the first information report filed against Mukhtar was "weakened by the people of my own department".

The woman constable added that the lawyers had first verbally misbehaved with her but now reached new heights. "I'm an educated BA and Masters in Science lady constable. In 2014, I was hired in the anti-terrorist department and, during this time, I was assigned as lady constable for Punjab Police.

"I felt honoured to join the police department… because I wanted to serve people and get justice for women. However, I'm saddened that myself did not get any justice," she added. Noting that she did her duty with honour and honesty, she spoke of how on Thursday, Mukhtar, the lawyer intoxicated by power and patriarchy, verbally abused her, kicked her in the shins, and slapped her. Nawaz said: "I'm fed up with this system, I don't understand whether I should commit suicide or die ... where should I go? I'm really, really mentally depressed because I'm worried about my respect ... about my future.

"I can't face the powerful mafia, I'm really really fed up with this unjust, tyrannical, and cruel system, so I'm resigning from my service. That's all."

On Thursday, Ahmed Mukhtar Advocate had slapped Constable Nawaz in the Ferozewala courts when she told him not to park his car at one of its checkpoints. She had requested him to remove his car, telling him that it would become an inconvenience to others but in his anger, the lawyer verbally and physically abused her.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar's spokesperson, Dr Shahbaz Gill, on Sunday labelled Constable Faiza Nawaz as "emotional" and touted "misinformation" and "provocation" pertaining to the case in an attack on the media. Dr Gill was speaking to Geo News about how Ahmed Mukhtar, Advocate, slapped Constable Faiza Nawaz in public, but the court approved his release on bail.

Terming it a "saddening incident", he said what Mukhtar did was despicable but that the media had "spread misinformation by saying the reason behind the approval of the lawyer’s bail was the minor mistake of an error in name" in the first information report (FIR). "This is wrong. Mukhtar's name is mentioned in the FIR in four places and only one of the four was wrongly typed … a spelling mistake. The court approved the bail not because of the mistake in the name.

"Why it did so? We don’t know. I can’t say or interfere in this matter but the state completed its responsibility," Dr Gill said. The local judge, who heard the case, released the suspect as his name was written as Ahmed Iftikhar, instead of his real name, Ahmed Mukhtar, in the FIR. When informed that Constable Faiza had said she was disappointed by her colleagues — in the police department as well — the Punjab CM spokesperson said: "I disagree with her! You tell me, what could have been done in this case?

"Police can only arrest and present in court," he added.

When told of how it was concerning, on the other hand, that the charge of a non-bailable offence — such as Section 354 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that deals with assault or criminal force to any woman to insult her humiliate her — was not included in the FIR, Dr Gill said: "Your concern is wrong, your question mark is wrong.

"It was not a non-bailable offence so you wish to have a fake FIR registered? Do you want an additional offence? Do you want the police to misuse their authority?

The Punjab CM spokesperson then blamed the public and the media, saying: "We provoke the situation. People and media and everyone provoke the situation. This was a bailable offence. This can’t be decided on a TV channel.

"It is not possible to add charges of firing or stabbing to the FIR just because someone just hit her once. That’d be wrong," he added, asserting that the Punjab government stood with Constable Faiza.

Dr Gill, however, was also unable to answer a question put forth by Geo News director of news, Rana Jawad, who asked if the spokesperson had read the FIR or gone through the sections and charges added to it.

Dr Gill said: "I spoke to the DPO [district police officer] in detail and he told me she [Constable Faiza Nawaz] was hit and the sections that could be added to the FIR were added.” The spokesperson then sidetracked, instead, speaking about the misuse of police authority. "Do you know that the police were accused as to why this police officer [Constable Faiza] was given the chain? The DPO misused his authority. This lady just wants the lawyer to remain behind the bars but that’s for the court, not police, to decide," he said.

Dr Gill also supported the Sheikhupura DPO’s offer to the lawyer community of dropping the case if they were able to present any video evidence showing Mukhtar did not hit the woman constable.

"The court has the prerogative. It approved the bail and we need to respect it. I, as a representative of the government, cannot say anything against a court's decision," he added. However, he further went on to say Constable Faiza was "emotional and acting emotionally" but that "I understand why she's emotional".

Separately, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Arif Nawaz Khan Sunday said departmental action was being taken against the policemen involved in torture of citizens as they deserve no leniency.

He said that in case of any misbehaviour with citizens, private lockup or custodial torture in any districts, senior officers would be held accountable. He expressed these views while issuing directions to the officers taking notice of the torture of a woman in Vehari.