30 held as protests against custodial torture continue

Updated 27 Jun 2020

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Protestors run for cover as the police fire tear gas shells near the assembly building in Peshawar on Friday. (Right) A policeman arrests a protester. — Photos by Shahbaz Butt
Protestors run for cover as the police fire tear gas shells near the assembly building in Peshawar on Friday. (Right) A policeman arrests a protester. — Photos by Shahbaz Butt

PESHAWAR: The police have arrested 30 people for rioting during the ongoing protests over the stripping and torture of an accused in the police custody.

The protests continued for the second day on Friday as the police and mobs clashed in different parts of the provincial city.

A large number of protesters gathered near the Peshawar Press Club on the Sher Shah Suri Road and tried to attack a police mobile van.

Some armed protesters fired bullets into the air. The mob later went to the Surey Pul Chowk, where they clashed with the riot police.

The protesters pelted the police with bricks, while the police used teargas shells to disperse the mob.

The Khyber Road remained closed to traffic during clashes.

Police, mobs clash in parts of Peshawar

In the afternoon, around 150 protesters tried to attack the Tehkal police station, where the incident of stripping and torture had taken place.

The protesters torched a motorcycle and threw stone at the police station and mob dispersed after being teargassed by the police.

An official said the closed-circuit television cameras of the police station were also damaged by the mob.

A statement issued here quoted city police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur as saying that the police had arrested 30 rioters and some of them were armed.

He said majority of those held were the local residents, while some were Afghan nationals.

Mr Gandapur said the police were working to identify those involved in rioting and pelting of stones.

“More people will be arrested after identification process is complete,” he said.

Mr Gandapur said the police had shown the maximum restraint during protests but they won’t allow anyone to engage in rioting and damage public and private properties.

In Malakand region, activists of the Jamaat-i-Islami protested the incident of custodial torture.

Carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans against the Tehkal police, the protesters condemned the police’s brutality.

On the call of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council, lawyers boycotted courts across the province to record their protest over custodial torture.

Also on Friday, the home department formally requested the Peshawar High Court to nominate a judge for a single-member judicial commission to investigate the Tahkal police’s brutality against an accused.

Adviser to chief minister on information Ajmal Khan Wazir said the government had sent a letter to the Peshawar High Court for the nomination of a judge for the judicial commission to probe the Tahkal incident.

Mr Wazir told reporters here that the judicial commission would identify those responsible for the incident and that they would be tried in accordance with the law.

He said the government would make the inquiry report public.

The adviser said the government took action against the police personnel soon after the torture video went viral on social media.

He said on the directions of the chief minister, four police personnel, including the relevant SHO, were suspended, while an FIR was lodged against them.

Mr Wazir said the Peshawar SSP (operations) was also removed from his post.

“The misconduct and wrongdoings of few personnel, the whole police department should not be blamed. The police force has given sacrifices in the war against terrorism, while they are also serving on the front line against the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Meanwhile, Afghan ambassador Shukrullah Atif Mashal met provincial police chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi at the central police offices here.

A statement issued here said the ambassador discussed the Tehkal issue with the police chief.

Dr Abbasi informed the diplomat about the prompt action taken by the police on the incident and said the culpable personnel were suspended and were taken into custody.

He said justice would be done in the case at all costs and that the due punishment would be given to the culprits.

The Afghan counsel general in Peshawar had met the KP police chief on Thursday. Radiullah alias Amirae, who was tortured in the police custody, is an Afghan national and therefore, the Afghan diplomatic mission in Pakistan is pursuing the case.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2020