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June 29, 2020

Police brutality

Editorial

 
June 29, 2020

Police brutality is common across Pakistan, but a recent video in which personnel from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police are seen torturing a young man is horrifying. Thanks to social media, the video went viral otherwise perhaps nobody would have noticed what happened to that poor young man in the confines of a police station which should ideally be a place of public redress. The incident has caused an uproar and protests were held resulting in the courts taking notice. The provincial government has announced a judicial commission, the culprits have been arrested and the Peshawar High Court has handed them over to the police. It is true that the police also provide basic succour to the people in the face of increasing crimes, and terrorism has also claimed innumerable lives of police personnel, but such incidents of police highhandedness against common people tarnish the image of the police irreparably.

The foundation of a functioning society to a great extent depends on how much trust people repose in the police force of that society. The crux of this matter apparently lies in the appointment of police officers who perhaps are not suitable for such a job. There has to be a proper psychological screening of recruits before they are appointed to positions dealing with the public. Especially SHOs have to be civilized human beings and must be groomed to exercise restraint in public dealing. The court has rightly directed the police officials to conduct an inquiry into the incident; but it must be stressed that we have seen numerous such inquiries in the past that have not resulted in any substantial improvement in police conduct.

In many cases such inquiries result in just suspension of the police officials, who are soon restored or transferred to other areas within the province. This practice of suspension and transfers must come to an end now. There has to be a proper procedure to punish such officials. In this particular case, police personnel are reportedly seen forcibly stripping a man and torturing him. The victim had earlier verbally abused the police department and posted it on social media. He is reported to be a waiter at a marriage hall and was under severe financial stress because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This insignificant misbehaviour of a young man did not call for such retaliation by the police. This kind of violence is a serious crime, and when committed by the police they become even more condemnable. Now the law must take its course and take the police officers to task.