THE findings of the judicial inquiry into the Jan 2 killing of 21-year-old Osama Satti in Islamabad merely confirms what observers and the victim’s family have been saying all along: Osama Satti was murdered in cold blood by personnel of the Islamabad police on Srinagar Highway. The report states that the level of brute force used by the policemen who shot the young man implies that their intention was to kill, rather than neutralise a threat. “Osama’s body lay on the road while police vehicles surrounded it to keep the matter hidden from the public. Instead of shifting the body to the hospital, the officials kept it on the road. It appears as if they waited for Osama to die,” it states. Contrary to official claims, the report reveals that Satti was killed by police personnel who fired at least 22 times from standing or sitting positions. The report also exposes the extent to which law enforcers went to cover up their colleagues’ brutal actions — from attempting to destroy evidence to giving the wrong address to Rescue 1122 and asking it to return. All this shows that police control was also compromised and ended up abetting the murderers. What is most lamentable, however, is that such revelations do not come as a shock any longer. There is a long list of victims across the country who have paid the ultimate price at the hands of the country’s trigger-happy security people. Only four months ago, in Turbat, a young student, Hayat Baloch, was dragged out from a date farm by FC men, shot and left to die, as a reaction to an IED attack on the security personnels’ vehicle. All this took place in front of his father, who pleaded to no avail that his son had been harvesting dates with him all day. Then there are the families of the more than 400 people killed allegedly by ‘encounter specialist’ Rao Anwar who await justice, as do the families of the innocent passengers targeted by the CTD in Sahiwal.

Though the speedy removal of several police personnel has been described as “encouraging” by Satti’s father, it remains to be seen whether this damning judicial report makes an impact on the overall professionalism of law enforcement officers. Unless such delinquent security personnel are tried and punished for the murders they commit, these brutal excesses will continue to plague the country.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2021

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