RAHIM YAR KHAN: Police on Saturday allegedly tortured and misbehaved with three international tourists and cyclists from Italy, England and Iran, including a woman, in the Sadiqabad area on Saturday.

Police deny the allegations, saying the incident was triggered when police did not allow them to go to an unsafe area of Sindh. The tourists had shown an irresponsible attitude regarding their security and alleged that the woman tourists had first slapped an assistant sub-inspector who paid in the same coin, the police spokesman claimed.

The footage of the incident was posted on social media.

In the first footage, the policeman, later identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector Liaqat, is seen scolding the woman tourist, asking her to get up in anger. When she refuses to do that, he shouts, repeatedly asking her to get up but she refuses to do so, saying she wants to sit there. He snatches the camera from her while sound of slaps is heard.

In the second footage, recorded by the woman, the male tourist is heard, saying, “I want my camera back. This is unwarranted assault. I am calling my Italian Embassy and she has the Iran Embassy.”

Police deny allegations, saying cyclists were stopped from going to Kashmore, Sindh; tourists should follow police SOPs

He is also heard saying that he wants his logistics back from the police vehicle.

The woman tourist says, “I want to know why he grabbed his hair. All these people saw it. He grabbed his hair. It’s not good for you.”

She goes to the police van to show the policeman’s face in an attempt to expose him, telling him, “Shame on you.” In response, the policeman brandishes his weapon (Kalashnikov) in a gesture to threaten the woman tourist. She dares him to shoot her, saying “shoot me, shoot me”. The police vehicle is seen driving away from the hotel.

According to police, the incident took place on the issue of provision of complete security and not allowing the tourists to go to an unsafe area of Sindh.

Three international tourists, including Charlie West of the United Kingdom, Alex Sidney of Italy and Motahira of Iran, were cycling from Sindh to Punjab and they reached Sadiqabad on Friday night. Alex’s Instagram profile says that he has been ‘tallbiking’ around the world since May 2022.

After crossing the Punjab-Sindh border at Kot Sabzal, Rahim Yar Khan police claimed that they provided the foreign tourists with security and when the tourists reached Sadiqabad, they insisted on going to Kashmore district of Sindh near Guddu Barrage. When police stopped them from going to Kashmore for their security and made arrangements for their stay at a hotel in Sadiqabad on the National Highway, the woman cyclist allegedly slapped a policeman.

In reaction, an assistant sub inspector (ASI) also replied in the same manner but his target was not the woman but the male cyclist, a source in a law enforcement agency said. The ASI took his camera too, he added.

On Saturday, according to official claims, when the tourists planned to depart for Lahore, Sadiqabad Saddar police provided them with security. When the tourists refused the security, an exchange of harsh words occurred between a tourist and the ASI when they were having breakfast. The tourists also complained about misbehaviour of the police employee to the hotel administration.

Later, Assistant Superintendent Police (ASP) Saddar Khurram Mahesar and Assistant Commissioner (AC) Sadiqabad Hammad Hamid reached the hotel and ‘resolved the issue’.

After mediation, the police gave the Ajraks and Sindhi caps to the touring cyclists. AC Hamid told Dawn the matter between international cyclists and police had been resolved peacefully for the good image of the country.

Police spokesperson Saif Ali Wains alleged that international cyclists showed an irresponsible attitude about their safety and security and later a police employee misbehaved with one of the tourists.

“The international tourists should follow the police standard operating procedures (SOPs) while travelling in the province for their security,” Wains stressed. The international cyclists departed for Lahore at 11am, he added.

District Police Officer Rizwan Umar Gondal has launched an inquiry and departmental proceedings against the ASI.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2024

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