LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the police violence against the visually impaired protesters and said the violent action again exposed the savagery of the baton-wielding face of what passed for authority in the province.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the commission said: “HRCP is shocked and disgusted beyond words by the callous police beating of the visually impaired protesters,” who had tried to move towards the chief minister’s secretariat.

“They were not a risk to public safety or order by any stretch of imagination,” it said, adding “heavens would not have fallen if the protesters had managed to reach the chief minister’s secretariat.

“One fears that the irony of physically challenged protesters advocating for their rights being beaten by police on International Day of Persons with Disabilities would be lost on the authorities. If such disgusting events do not make the government wake up then perhaps who the visually impaired are seeking help from are indeed blind, and heartless.

“Anyone seeking to teach Punjab Police about the undesirability of the use of force unless it becomes absolutely necessary has their work cut out. Whenever Punjab Police, already well known as a symbol of brutality and inhumanity, have been asked if they could sink any lower, they have accepted that as a challenge.

“The Punjab government should be ashamed and must not try and sweep this shameful incident under the carpet by ordering another one of those famous inquiries that go nowhere or suspend a few policemen. Of course, the personnel who beat up the protesters and those who ordered the beating must be brought to justice. But the whole concept of policing and crowd control should be looked at from a pro-people perspective,” the HRCP demanded.

“Few people have yet given much thought to why the physically challenged protesters in Lahore believed that the only way for them to be heard was to congregate outside the chief minister’s secretariat. None of the many answers would bring much comfort to the ‘leaders’ across the country who have been gloating over their respective versions of good governance.”

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2014

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