He worried for the common man

The people of Harsa Sheikh, a town in Chiniot, have lost a sympathiser in SSP Abrar Hussain Nekokara –

Abrar Hussain Nekokara, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), was found dead in his office at Police Training School (PTS) in Rawalpindi on January 13.

“Nekokara is not a caste; it points to good deeds (literally it means the doer of virtue),” says Prof Assad Salim Shiekh, who teaches at Degree College-Pindi Bhattian.

“I was the first boy from my village to have earned a master’s degree. Having been out of my village for 20 years, I am back now for my hometown. I do what I can,” says Abrar Hussain Nekokara in a documentary made on his endeavours to moderanise his village, which is part of Harsa Shiekh, a locality in Chiniot. “We are turning it around, planting trees and doing all that is necessary to make life easy here,” he says, wearing a blue shalwar kamees and dark glasses.

Nekokara is no more. He was the principal of Police Training School (PTS) in Rawat where he was found dead. Rawat separates Rawalpindi from Islamabad. PTS was established there in 1986.

Over a year ago, SSP Nekokara was appointed as principal of this college. He lived with his family close to the college. He is survived by a wife, a son and a daughter.

Former colleagues tell TNS that he was very soft-spoken and gentle. They say Nekokara enjoyed a reputation for being an upright officer.

Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO), Muhammad Ahsan Younas, says the investigation is on and Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) officials have collected pieces of evidence.

The cause of death has yet to be determined officially. Area police officials, not authorised to talk to the media, say that senior policemen had reached the scene shortly after the SSP was found dead.

They mention that the late SSP had a troubled family life. But they also say that the late SSP had never talked to them about his family life. No senior police officer in Rawalpindi police is ready to talk about the cause of Nekokara’s death.

SSP Nekokara had also served in Sindh. Afzal Shigri, a former inspector general of Sindh police and Commandant of National Police Academy, tells TNS that the late SSP was a very energetic and intelligent officer.

“Mr Nekokara was very soft-spoken and humble,” he says. Asked about the element of job-related stress, he says the job of a police official entails a lot of stress. “From registration of a crime to investigation and court trials, it is all about stress. But Nekokara’s office was not a stress hub,” he says, adding, “He was training young recruits. And this is a job enjoyed by most trainers.” He rules out job-related stress as cause of death.

SSP Nekokara had also served in Sindh. Afzal Shigri, a former inspector general of Sindh police and Commandant of National Police Academy, tells TNS that the late SSP was a very energetic and intelligent officer.

Syed Azhar Hassan Nadeem, another former inspector general of police (IGP), says there has to be a mechanism for stress management for police officials. “In other countries, special measures are taken to make sure that police officials do not suffer from unmanageable stress. But we ignore it. I would argue for a mechanism to be put in place for psychological well-being of police officials.”

A day after Nekokara’s death, Punjab police from its official Twitter account tweeted, “Be gentle with your mind. Your mental health matters.” This coincided with a stream of condolences on social media about the ‘suicide’ using his official pistol. Mainstream media has been treating it as a suicide.

Irfan Hussain Nekokara, a younger brother of Abrar Hussain Nekokara, tells TNS that the media is misrepresenting the case. Irfan is general secretary of Chiniot District Bar Association.

“Abrar was my brother and my friend. He took me to Lahore for studies. We shared a room. He used to share everything with me,” he says.

“My brother would not commit suicide. He was a successful man and had no reason to do so. His death happened two days after my election as general secretary of the bar. He was very happy about it,” Irfan says.

“Three hours before his death was reported, he talked to me over phone. There was no trace of stress in his voice. We talked normally,” he says.

Irfan Nekokara later received a call from a government number about his death. “Many questions about his death will be answered if an investigation is carried out in the light of that call,” he says without revealing the contents of that call.

“Yes, it is an unresolved case. Irfan is right. But it is also a case of a lot of half- truths,” says Ahsan Raza, a senior journalist. “There are things everybody knows but nobody says. Five police officials have reportedly committed suicide recently,” he says.

“Abrar’s was a big funeral in Harsa Shiekh. The name means one of the three places where Sheikhs reside. They (Nekokara) were called Sheikh because of their good deeds and it was not their caste,” says Prof Assad Salim Shiekh. Prof Shiekh has an interest in the history of Punjab’s cities and castes and has written a book on this subject.

“Abrar was a role model for the people of this area. Parents would tell their children to follow him.”

SSP Abrar Hussain Nekokara – the man who worried for common people