FAISALABAD: A group of around one dozen people, some of them in lawyers’ uniform, on Monday publicly thrashed the Chak Jhumrah station house officer (SHO) near the city police officer’s office, allegedly for misbehaving with women protesting a “house-to-house search operation” at Katcha Jhumra village on last Thursday night.

Jhumrah police had reportedly launched the “search operation” at Katcha Jhumra village in retaliation to firing on a Constable, Haq Nawaz, who sustained injuries on his feet, during a raid on an outhouse to arrest the alleged killers of two persons. The police claimed to have recovered weapons from some houses and detained over a dozen locals.

On Monday, some village residents gathered at the District Council Chowk to protest against the “search operation” and demanding the release of the people detained by police.

They threw traffic out of gear and chanted slogans against the police.

Usually, Civil Lines police officials handle the protests at the District Council Chowk, but on Monday SHO Asif Nadeem and some of his subordinates, who were accused of manhandling the village residents, including women, during the house-to-house search operation, came to negotiate with the enraged protesters.

The situation turned ugly when during the dialogue with the protesters, the SHO threatened some of the women of legal action in case of damage to any public property during the demonstration.

At this, the protesters, some of them in lawyers’ uniform, started thrashing the SHO with fists, kicks and wooden sticks.

Witnesses said that none of the policemen posted at the CPO office or the nearby Session Courts came forward to rescue the SHO who finally managed to escape from the scene with the help of a motorcyclist. Some of the protesters chased the motorcycle on which the SHO was fleeing, but the biker managed to take him away.

The eyewitnesses said the one policeman who kept trying to rescue the SHO from the protesters was also given a sound thrashing by them.

Talking to reporters, the enraged protesters said they could not tolerate humiliation of the women of their families by the police come what may. They alleged the so-called search operation was launched against innocent village residents at the behest of a political personality who was favouring their rivals in an old fued.

They said they had staged the protest to get the attention of the senior police officers so that the policemen who misbehaved with women, thrashed innocent men, ransacked houses and also seized even their licenced weapons, could be held accountable.

“We had purchased the weapons and got their licences only for self-defence as police usually did not reach the spot timely [following a crime], but the Jhumra police were showing in their reports that these weapons were illegal,” they lamented.

A police spokesperson said no inquiry had so far been ordered into the the “search operation”, adding that an FIR against the suspects who tortured the SHO was under process. Civil Lines police have registered a case on the complaint of SHO Asif Nadeem against four dozen people, 14 of them nominated, on charges of thrashing him, trying to kidnap him, and snatching his mobile phone. The protesters were also booked for blocking the traffic and damaging the public property.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2021

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