Amid custodial torture cases, Punjab police bans use of mobile phones while on duty

Published September 9, 2019
Punjab police communiqué says it is "strictly forbidden" to make or upload videos of police officers performing their duty. — AP/File
Punjab police communiqué says it is "strictly forbidden" to make or upload videos of police officers performing their duty. — AP/File

The Punjab police has banned the use of cellphones by officers while on duty and barred them from capturing videos of other police personnel on duty, it emerged on Monday.

The regulation comes after several cases came to light in recent days of suspects dying in the custody of Punjab police due to alleged torture.

A communiqué sent to all Punjab police officers by the additional inspector general on behalf of the Punjab IG, seen by Dawn.com, stated that it had been observed that police officials were using mobile phones while on duty even though "clear directions in this regard have already been conveyed to all field formations".

"Frequent violations of these directions/SOPs reflect badly on the performance of supervising officers," it said, stressing that it was the responsibility of the field formations to get the instructions implemented "in letter and spirit".

"In future, no officer below the rank of SHO (Station House Officer) or in-charge of a deployed duty will use cellphone while on duty," the letter decreed.

It also said that it was "strictly forbidden" to make a video of police officers on duty or upload a video of police officers performing their duty.

Any violations of the order will entail "severe departmental action" against the police personnel involved and their supervisory officer, it added.

At least three cases had come to light last week of deaths caused by alleged police torture, and videos had gone viral on social media of some suspects in a distressed state while in police custody. On September 1, Salahuddin Ayubi, a man who was said to be mentally disabled, had died in police custody in Rahim Yar Khan. On the same day, a middle-aged man had passed away in Lahore after allegedly being tortured by Gujjarpura police in an illegal torture cell that was unearthed last month.

Reports also emerged that a gardener named Amir Masih had died after being illegally detained in an alleged police torture cell in Lahore.

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