Videos of police brutality trigger outrage on social media

Published June 25, 2020
Jamaat-i-Islami workers stage a protest outside Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday against torture of youth by police. — White Star
Jamaat-i-Islami workers stage a protest outside Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday against torture of youth by police. — White Star

PESHAWAR: Disturbing videos of police personnel stripping and torturing an accused inside a police station emerged here on Wednesday and led to a social media uproar over police brutality.

The episode involving Radiullah alias Amiray, a resident of Tehkal, had been doing the round on the social media for past more than a week after the accused apparently under the influence of some intoxicant cursed police officers and later he was taken into custody on charges of possessing drugs along with two other persons.

The accused, who was referring to himself as a province, was turned into butt of memes for several days; however, two videos that emerged on Wednesday wherein policemen could be seen stripping him turned the light banter into a social media outrage.

First video of 19 seconds length, which emerged on Wednesday morning, showed two policemen forcing the semi-naked accused into a room, while two others could be seen following them. Another video of 36 seconds length showed the cops forcing the semi-naked accused to pose for mobile phone video.

Four cops suspended as politicians, lawyers and NGOs seek judicial probe into incident

Social media erupted into an uproar soon after the videos made their way into cyber sphere, while workers of Jamaat-i-Islami and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network took to the streets to protest the inhuman treatment meted to the detainee.

A trend #JusticeforAmir was trending on top in Pakistan with more than 15,000 tweets for several hours till the filing of this report.

Soon after the social media outrage, city police issued a notification announcing to suspend four policemen including Tehkal SHO Shahryar Khan. It said that Shahryar Khan, Zahirullah, Naeem and Tauseef were suspended on account of gross misconduct. It said that the policemen were being charge-sheeted with summary of allegations for departmental action.

Tehkal police later in the day also booked three of them including Zahirullah, Tauseef and Naeem under section 355, 118 and 119 of Pakistan Penal Code for using criminal force to dishonour someone and public servant concealing design commit offence, which is his duty to prevent.

Chief Minister Mahmood Khan also directed the authorities concerned to arrest the policemen, who were dishonouring the citizen. Directorate of Human Rights also ordered an inquiry into the incident and directed an official to look into the matter and present report within three days.

SSP Zahoor Afridi said that police had taken strict notice of the incident and whoever was responsible would be taken to the task. He said that three policemen booked and arrested for dishonouring the citizen while the SHO was suspended for poor supervision.

Amiray was taken into custody by police on June 16 after a video went viral wherein he could be seen cursing police officials. Police charged him along with two other accused identified as Shakil and Mohammad Khan under section 11 of CNSA, section of 15 Arms Act, 4-PO and section 14 of Foreigners Act.

A day later another video emerged where the accused could be seen begging police and saying that he was sorry for his mistake. A policeman, who is not seen in the video, apparently in reference to videos that emerged on Wednesday, mockingly asks him whether he has enjoyed the hospitality in the police station. “How you were honoured at the police station,” he asks the accused twice.

Sources familiar with Amir told Dawn that he was an Afghan refugee living in Tehkal. They said that he used to work at Spring Carnival wedding hall on University Road as waiter and was rendered jobless due to lockdown resulting from Covid-19 outbreak. However, a staffer at the wedding hall said that they had terminated him about eight months ago as his appearance was not suitable for working in family setting.

A man, who has worked along with the accused for several years, said that he was a good guy and had a BA degree. He said that before the emergence of his drunken video, never for once he had seen him doing drugs.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Jurists Association (PJA) in an emergency meeting held with a senior lawyer Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel in the chair said that policemen misused their powers by lodging a fake FIR in reaction and arresting Amiray.

“In police custody, he was undressed, humiliated and sexually harassed by the whole police station of Tehkal. He received injuries in police custody and was also victim of sexual abuse. The acts of police were inhumane, unlawful and against the dignity and privacy of human being,” PJA alleged in a statement.

The members of PJA said that no doubt the man uploaded a video in which he abused the police officers but the treatment and reaction of police was unjustified and not permissible under the law.

PJA demand of Chief Justice of Pakistan, chief justice of Peshawar High Court, IGP, chief minister and other high-ups to take stern action against the policemen involved in the incident.

In their separate statements, ANP provincial president Aimal Wali Khan, QWP provincial chairman Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, Peshawar District Bar Association president Advocate Akhtar Biland, JUI-F provincial deputy general secretary Maulana Ahmad Ali Darvesh also condemned the policemen and demanded judicial probe into incident.

Our correspondent from Charsadda adds: Demonstrations were held in the district to protest police violence against a man in Peshawar. The rallies were led by JI youth and NGOs.

The protesters demanded of chief justice of Peshawar High Court and Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo moto notice of the incident.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2020

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