LAHORE: A man, who had set himself on fire outside the Central Police Office (CPO) in protest against the police behaviour, succumbed to his critical wounds here on Tuesday.

Identified as Sabir Sohail, the man had been struggling for the last four months or so to get justice from the police for his ‘homeless children’ after an alleged mafia occupied his two-marla house located in the Ashiana Housing Society in Nishtar Colony.

According to reports, the man had visited the offices of several officers from the SHO to the SP to get his house back from the land grabber(s).

Some days back, he doused himself with petrol outside the office of IG Punjab Dr Usman Anwar.

A source said as Sabir set himself ablaze, a police constable tried to save him but it was too late. The constable sustained 22 per cent burns, he said, adding Sabir suffered 44pc deep and critical burns.

Deceased had been trying to seek police help to get his house vacated from grabbers

The source said Sabir had refused treatment making it conditional with the justice, seeking police help to get his house back from occupiers.

However, the police managed to get him admitted to the Mayo Hospital at a time when he developed complications due to critical and deep burns on his chest and other body parts.

On Tuesday, his breathing issues aggravated and the man breathed his last, making the police rush to the hospital.

The source said some four to five months back, the alleged land grabbers got his house in Ashiana Society vacated with the connivance of the local police and facilitated another party to occupy it.

He said Sabir immediately rushed to the police but all efforts went in vain as the local police had already been taken on board by the mafia.

Meanwhile, the land grabbers offered him a solution, shifted him along with his other family members to another house located in the same colony on Rs15,000 per month rent for a brief period, assuring him that they would resolve the ‘dispute’ of his (Sabir) house.

He spent a couple of months in the rented house, the source said, adding that the mafia again began to use the ‘police influence’, exerting pressure on Sabir to vacate the rented premises too.

As the poor man was not well versed in the fraud tactics, the rivals got his thumb impressions on a piece of paper carrying a written agreement that he would vacate the rented house for not paying the rent timely.

The situation again turned tricky for the deceased when the rival party reached the rented house, got it vacated using the ‘police influence’.

Quoting Sabir, the source said he made more than a dozen calls to 15 to seek help when the rival party men entered his rented house forcibly and threw the household items in the street.

However, the police officials didn’t come to his help as the rival party had already ‘managed’ them, he said.

The source added that the poor man again went to the police station to meet the SHO and then visited the offices of the respective SP and SSPs where he told them the fraudulent tactics of the mafia men and the way they made his children ‘homeless’.

On finding all of them unmoved to his repeated requests and complaints, Sabir finally took the extreme step outside the office of the IG police.

Following the news of his death on Tuesday, the SP and other senior police officers rushed to the scene, visited the dead house and managed to calm down his family. He was laid to rest in the local graveyard amid police presence in the afternoon.

Model Town Operations SP Akhlaqullah Tarar claimed that the police heard the man at all levels and held multiple inquiries.

He said the matter was legal as the poor man was not carrying complete documents of his house.

Sabir got dejected when he was expelled from the rented house, the SP said, adding that he was not satisfied by the ‘remedy’ the police provided to him during his months-long struggle. The SP, however, didn’t explain the ‘remedy’.

“We can’t defend the police actions as the poor man has lost his life leaving his minor children homeless,” the SP said.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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