Major embarrassment for police after custodial deaths in Punjab

Updated September 03, 2019

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The recent incidents of deaths in police custody have brought about embarrassment for the police high-ups when a suspect died in Rahim Yar Khan and another in Lahore. — Photo courtesy Punjab police Facebook/File
The recent incidents of deaths in police custody have brought about embarrassment for the police high-ups when a suspect died in Rahim Yar Khan and another in Lahore. — Photo courtesy Punjab police Facebook/File

LAHORE: The recent incidents of deaths in police custody have brought about embarrassment for the police high-ups when a suspect died in Rahim Yar Khan and another in Lahore.

The incidents occurred despite the fact that Inspector General of Punjab retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan had issued clear instructions to all the field officers that “no officer will be spared if such crime was reported in any part of the province”.

For the purpose, he had paid surprise visits to some police stations of Punjab.

Earlier, he had also given his policy guideline in this respect to all the regional police officers (RPOs), district police officers (DPOs), city police officers (CPOs) and the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO). However, despite all efforts, the incidents of torture of suspects in police custody continued to surface, bringing bad name to the department.

According to a handout issued on Monday, the IGP Punjab expressed his displeasure over the incident of custodial death of Salahuddin Ayubi in Rahim Yar Khan. He had got viral for his video recorded in an ATM machine before his arrest.

Two suspects died of alleged police torture in Lahore and RY Khan

While addressing a video link conference at Central Police Office, Mr Khan directed the Bahawalpur RPO to conduct a detailed inquiry into the death of the suspect, ensuring strict departmental and legal action against the persons responsible. He said that in case of custodial death or torture, the circle officer would also be held accountable.

In Lahore, a middle-aged man, Amjad Ali, had breathed his last late on Sunday at a local hospital of Lahore due to alleged torture by the Gujjarpura police in an illegal torture cell unearthed some days back.

The torture cell was detected in a building of the forest department where nine suspects, including Amjad, were illegally kept by the police for ‘interrogation’. Most of them were brought there on the basis of allegations and the station house officer of Gujjarpura Police Station and his three other subordinates used to allegedly torture them. The footages later went viral on social media showing Amjad lying on a charpoy in critical condition after the police officials used third-degree torture which led to fracture of his backbone.

As per the video clips, Amjad revealed he couldn’t even move due to fracture he had suffered during the brutal torture by the police who had picked up him from his home. He also alleged that the raiding policemen had misbehaved with his family, took away cash and valuables from his home and locked him in the building of the forest department.

As the video reached the police high-ups, they ordered an inquiry which was carried out initially by a superintendent of police and then another senior police officer.

In both the inquiries, the SHO and other policemen were found guilty of charges leveled by all the nine people locked in the private torture cell. They later suspended from service. However, the issue again came to the limelight on Sunday night when Amjad died during his treatment at hospital.

The Lahore police high-ups claimed that he had died of a cardiac arrest. However, a murder case was lodged over the incident nominating three policemen for torture of Amjad that led to his death.

During the video link conference, IGP Khan said lock-up should be used for safe custody of the suspects and accused and it was the responsibility of police to provide them with good and timely medical care and in case of any laxity in this regard action would be taken against those responsible.

During the conference, Mr Arif Nawaz directed the senior police officers to specially inspect the lock-ups, record videos during their surprise visits to the police stations and in case of any violation of the SOP, take strict action without any delay.

He also issued instructions about the security arrangements regarding Muharram, saying that the DPOs should personally monitor the security arrangements of A category processions in sensitive districts of the province.

He said the snipers should also be deployed on the rooftops on the buildings in the vicinity of sensitive Majalis. He directed the officials to utilise the drone cameras for security of A category processions and their routes for 9th and 10th Muharram.

Parking should be at least 100 feet away from the mosques and imambargahs. He also issued directions regarding the security arrangements for the devotees on the annual Urs of Hazrat Baba Fareeduddin Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan by deputing women police officials for search and security of female devotees.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2019