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FAISALABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has detected more than 1,400 cases of police torture and summoned 13 policemen including three SHOs who have been found involved in torturing citizens.

The SHOs the Commission wants to question are Shahbaz Chaddhar, Khalil and Farooq Ranjah while other policemen are Farooq Ghumman, Atif Shahzad, Anwar Kharral, Allah Ditta, Munawar, Rana Asghar, Bashir, Riasat, Sajid and Majid. Their cases have been sent to Regional Police Officer Ghulam Mahmood Dogar with a direction to ensure their appearance before the commission’s team which would visit Faisalabad to record their statements.

A three-member committee of the commission comprising Muhammad Shafiq, Syed Khalil Ali and Razaur Rehman will record the statements of the policemen on Aug 7.

Commission comes up with 12-year data

In a letter sent to the RPO, commission chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chohan said they recorded testimonies of some of the victims on May 28 last in Circuit House, Faisalabad. During the testimonies, the names of police officials involved in torture were shared with the RPO.

The letter said the scale and magnitude of excessive use of force by the Faisalabad police during the past decade was illustrated by the medico-legal certificates available with the commission. The commission is also interested in knowing about the administrative and disciplinary action taken, if any, by Faisalabad police in 19 sample cases where mediation took place between police and the victims as reported by the district administration, says the letter.

The 1,424 police torture cases were reported from 2006 to 2018. Besides, the commission has complaints regarding harassment of Dr Khurram Sohail Raja who conducted dozens of medical examination of police torture victims.

Doctors of the forensic department told Dawn that police torture could not be curtailed until there are exemplary punishments for the policemen found guilty.

“We have conducted a number of cases in which those in custody were brutally tortured and police higher-ups were also informed in this regard. Instead of taking action against the policemen, they were provided ample opportunities to go for reconciliation with the victims,” a doctor said.

Citing an example, he said a couple of months ago the Mansoorabad police brutally tortured a student of the University of Agriculture Faisalabad allegedly at the behest of a PML-N MPA. The torture was confirmed during the medical examination of the student but despite having proofs against the police, the family had to go for patch-up with the policemen.

A police officer requesting anonymity said the issue of torture in custody could not be bridled without equipping the police department with modern gadgets that could help policemen in investigation. He said owing to the political and public pressure, the police had to employ “third-degree torture” to extract information. He admitted that innocent people had been made to suffer in many cases in the past.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018