Punjab home minister denies Shahbaz Gill's alleged torture at Adiala jail

Published August 16, 2022
<p>Punjab Home Minister Hashim Muhammad Dogar talks to the media in Rawalpindi on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV</p>

Punjab Home Minister Hashim Muhammad Dogar talks to the media in Rawalpindi on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

Punjab Home Minister Hashim Muhammad Dogar on Tuesday denied reports of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill being subjected to torture in prison.

Talking to the media after visiting Gill — who was arrested last week for passing controversial remarks at a programme aired on ARY News — at Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, Dogar said the PTI leader was "completely fine, there is no problem".

His statement comes a day after former prime minister Imran Khan alleged that Gill was stripped naked, beaten, and mentally tortured behind bars.

In an interview with GNN News anchor Fereeha N Idrees yesterday, he expressed disappointment at the treatment meted out at his chief of staff.

"They are torturing and trying to mentally break him. And they are forcing him to give statements against Imran Khan," the ex-premier alleged, adding that if "Imran has to say something, he will say it himself [...] he doesn't need Shahbaz Gill for that".

Imran had also alleged the same on Friday, asking on whose orders the claimed torture was being carried out.

However, at a media talk today, Dogar refuted these claims.

"I am very clear. The question doesn't even arise. No one dares to even lay a finger on any prisoner in jail, let alone Shahbaz Gill. I will take direct action if someone does," he said, adding that he would meet PTI Chairman Imran Khan and apprise him about the "actual situation".

The provincial minister said that any report of torture should be "ruled out", saying that the media could question Gill himself upon his release if there was anything wrong with what Dogar was saying.

Dogar said he would hold prison officials to account if there was violence against any prisoner. He said it was his job to investigate reports of torture and violence at any prison and reiterated that nothing of the sort had happened, requesting the media to not spread rumors.

But in a tweet later in the day, Dogar said that he had come to know that Gill was illegally kept in the chakki on his first night in the prison, adding that this should not happen with any prisoner.

"I have recommended the removal of DIG and Superintendent to the competent authority," he said.

Subsequently, Punjab Minister for Cooperatives Basharat Raja said the DIG and superintendent for Adiala jail were being removed from their posts on their "criminal silence about illegal actions being done with political prisoner Shahbaz Gill".

Maher Sher Ali, public relations officer for the Punjab home department, told Dawn.com that action had not yet been taken against the individuals but would be soon.

The PTI has been recently claiming that Gill was subjected to torture in the prison. A day ago, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that Gill was being persecuted as he was not among the “powerful”.

Gill’s controversial comments

Earlier this week, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing comments from Gill, that it said were “highly hateful and seditious” remarks tantamount to “incite armed forces towards revolt”.

The notice stated that Gill was invited via a telephonic call for his comments and during his talk with the channel, Gill had alleged that the government was trying to provoke the lower and middle tier of the army against the PTI, saying the families of such “rank and file” support Imran Khan and his party “which is fuelling rage within the government”.

He had also alleged that the “strategic media cell” of the ruling PML-N was spreading false information and fake news to create divisions between PTI chief Imran Khan and the armed forces.

Gill had said the government leaders, including Javed Latif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq, had lambasted the army in the past “and they were at the government positions now”.

“The statement made by the guest on ARY News is a violation of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Pemra laws. Airing of such content on your news channel shows either weak editorial control on the content or the licensee is intentionally indulged in providing its platform to such individuals who intend to spread malice and hatred against state institutions for their vested interests,” the watchdog stated.

“Dr Gill tried to malign the federal government, claiming the government functionaries are spearheading a campaign through social media cell for propagating anti-army narrative,” the authority said.

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