Five policemen in Chiniot, Punjab were arrested after a footage that aired on various news channels clearly showed them publicly whipping four men accused of stealing rice.
Four men were beaten-up like animals by five policemen and the footage shot by an amateur video journalist has created an uproar, like the Rodney King incident in San Francisco, California.
A case was registered against Sub-inspector Obaidullah Kaliar and constables Muhammed Afzal, Sajjad and Sarfraz for assaulting and torturing the suspects in public. These suspects were beaten brutally beaten on 1st March, in the District Chiniot of the province of Punjab.
Four men were arrested a few days earlier on suspicion of stealing rice from a truck.
These men were brought to a public place on Monday where two of them were whipped with a leather strap, locally known as ‘chitrol’ and the other two were taken next to the road and were beaten publicly.
Sub Inspector Abdul Razzaq of Bhawana police station had arrested these suspects for allegedly stealing rice from a truck but allegations against them were not proved and they were released.
A day later these men tried to register a report against the police for torture. They were again arrested and this around whipped in the public park.
This incident was filmed by one of the eye witnesses and aired on various media channels.
Immediately after the footage was shown on private channels, police officers of Bhawana police station were suspended and arrested after a case of torture and assault was registered against them.
Later Inspector General Police Punjab Tariq Saleem Dogar directed the higher police officials of the province to adopt foolproof measures to evaluate incidents of police violence and take immediate action against the officials involved.
Mr. Dogar said, “ all senior police officers have been told to warn their subordinates to ensure that there was no incident of police violence in their respective jurisdictions. If any case of police violence was reported in future, the officer of region, district and city would be held responsible .”
Human rights activists in Pakistan have condemned the incident. Asma Jahangir, an active Human Right Worker, called it “barbaric” and demanded strong punishments for those involved.
Chief Minister Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif took notice of torture incident at Bhawana police station and has ordered suspension and arrest of policemen including Sub-Inspector, and said that such behaviors will not be accepted anymore.
The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) does not specify the word ‘torture’, but only mentions “hurt” which mainly deals with a dispute between civilians. Hence the torture by the state agents has no clause in PPC.
Therefore such brutal state agents do not fear that they will be punished for torturing someone in custody.
Police officials suspended and arrested will not be tried for assaulting the suspects as Pakistan has no such law against them, and arresting them is only an act to calm the popular sentiments.
The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), who was suspended in July of 2009 for torturing Shfiq Dogar, was back in office within two months.
This incident is not new as police torture is a common practice and Pakistani police have a long standing reputation of brutality and violence against those they are paid to protect.