Punjab police use stun therapy on SOP violators

Published June 7, 2020
A police official said the measures would be helpful in keeping the people indoors during the pandemic and making them follow the SOPs in public places. — AFP/File
A police official said the measures would be helpful in keeping the people indoors during the pandemic and making them follow the SOPs in public places. — AFP/File

FAISALABAD: Despite opposition by international human rights bodies like the Amnesty International (AI), stun batons are being used with impunity by local police and other law-enforcement agencies against those flouting Covid-19 related standard operating procedures (SOPs), obviously with the consent of a government whose job is to procure and supply these torture tools to law enforcers.

Stun guns and stun batons are gadgets that inflict a high-frequency shock to the victim, causing loss of balance and muscle control, mental confusion and disorientation, if for only a few seconds.

On Saturday, the district administration and police were witnessed using stun batons on the city roads against those flouting Covid-19 SOPs, especially those who were not wearing masks.

The Amnesty International (AI) is campaigning worldwide for banning the use and trade of torture tools like stun baton, stun belts, spike batons, neck cuffs etc. It argues that no one should profit from pain and suffering of people.

The AI also demands that the United Nations member states should work towards regulations aimed at ending the torture tools trade for good.

Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali and Senior Superintendent of Police (operations) Syed Ali Raza led their subordinates on various city roads, including Jail Road and Chenab Chowk where people, mostly motorcyclists and those traveling by motorcycle-rickshaws, not wearing masks, were lined up facing walls and subjected to stun baton shocks.

This new mode of public torture, carried out by plainclothesmen, terrorised the people, besides causing pain to those declared as violators.

According to the AI, gadgets like stun baton come handy for state officials to inflict painful electric shocks to the bodies of the targeted people without leaving any long-lasting physical traces.

Aslam, a motorcyclist who was subjected to such torture on Jail Road, narrating his ordeal said: “I was going on a bike with a friend when a man carrying a strange-looking baton approached us and asked us to line up against a wall along the road. He asked why I was not wearing a mask. Before I could answer, he gave me an electric shock with the baton, causing me immense pain. It was so sudden and painful that for a few seconds I felt like I was dying.”

He said the shock left him in a daze for a couple of minutes.

“The official could have imposed a fine or even arrested me, instead of inflicting an electric shock that might cause me a serious physical harm,” he lamented. This scribe tried to contact the deputy commissioner and the SSP for their versions on their phones but the officers did not reply.

A police officer, seeking anonymity, said the higher authorities were quite aware of the use of stun batons to control violators and protesters as these gadgets were procured and provide to various departments on their orders.

Justifying the use of stun batons, he said these would be helpful in keeping the people indoors during the pandemic and making them follow the SOPs in public places.

Meanwhile, through a handout, the district administration has warned those leaving their homes without masks of strict action.

The administration also sealed shops in different areas of the city for violation of the SOPs.

At some places, the traffic police employees deflated tyres of vehicles of those who were not wearing masks.

The district administration spokesman said the gadgets had been procured by the civil defense department to control coronavirus patients housed in Paras Quarantine Centre. He claimed the device gave 4 to 5 watts shock and had no side effects.

Following a recent complaint, he claimed, the district administration had banned its use by civil defense staff, adding “it should be used for the purpose for which it was purchased”.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2020

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