Viral pictures of Salahhdin’s dead body reveal the fact that he was subjected to severe torture by the Punjab police. People are demanding an answer from the authorities. Social media users asking if there is any reform package left. Pakistanis have started questioning the state of police reforms in Punjab. Where is the committee and its recommendations to de-politicize Punjab police? The question is being asked after an ATM thief died in police custody.
His death has posed some serious questions. According to details, a resident of Gujrat’s Kamonkey district, Salahuddin was arrested from Rahim Yar Khan from an ATM booth after attempting another robbery. Police reported that upon his arrest Salahuddin had presented himself as being speech impaired but that claim was disproved later. Now all efforts are being made to silence the family and divert the public attention. However, social media has become unmanageable for the Punjab police.
Initially, some reports claimed that Salahuddin had been suffering from a health ailment earlier and is believed to have died from a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital after his illness worsened. An inquiry into the cause of his death has been ordered by the District Police Officer. However, the police’s version got challenged after the family shared pictures of Salahudin’s dead body. Police have apparently beaten him to death.
The case will become history once social media attention is lessened. There have been many cases of violence and torture which met the same met once the public did not follow them or media decided to take up any other issue. Similarly, in Lahore, a middle-aged man, Amjad Ali, died in hospital due to alleged torture by the Gujjarpura police in a torture cell unearthed some days back. He was kept at the building of the forest department in a jungle.
The PTI promised before coming into power to reform police and make it model institution. But after assuming the offices, the party has failed to introduce any change which might have impacted the performance of the police across the province. It has disappointed many of PTI’s supporters who were expecting to live in Naya Pakistan.
The PTI’s government did not focus on reforming police. The Islamabad police came under tremendous pressure when reportedly people belonging to federal minister Azam Swati’s side beat up a poor family close to the minister’s farmhouse. Interestingly the minister admitted to have encroached upon a few kanals of CDA land.”
The custodial deaths of Ayubi and Amjad have one again brought the issue of police reforms to the fore. Though customary inquiries into the deaths have been initiated, the most important thing is the intervention of Prime Minister Imran Khan into the affairs of the Punjab police. Mr Khan has ordered the police chief to introduce aggressive and progressive reforms to bring about a visible change in police culture. The force needs training to police communities along professional lines. It will need the strict enforcement of discipline.
The statement of then Islamabad Inspector General Khalid Khattak to a Supreme Court bench back in 2018 should be read again and again, since it is a sort of surrender to the radicalisation of society and the collapse of the police force. During the hearing of the Faizabad dharna, he said the security personnel had a ‘soft corner’ for the protesters because of the religious cause of the protesters.
The project of de-politicization of police in Punjab became even difficult because of attitude of the local leadership who believes without accommodative police in the province, it is not possible to ensure the functioning of the government. The police structure needs a complete overhaul so problems like custodial killings are finally rooted out.