Rawalpindi: Torture gets embedded in policing
RAWALPINDI: Police brutality is now deeply embedded in the society as 50 cases of torture involving policemen and jail guards have been documented between January 1, 2007, and April 5 this year. According to data compiled by Dawn, four of the torture victims died, while some others were beaten to the verge of death. The victims even included a police official of the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA), Rawalpindi.
Autopsy reports, testimonies and interviews with victims and doctors revealed that some of the detainees were subjected to severe torture in an effort to extract “confessions”.
Ironically, when such suspects are brought before courts, the judges and magistrates often accept their “confessions”.
The data shows that the practice of torture is widespread in Rawalpindi, and proves that the law has failed to stop it or punish those responsible.
In majority of the cases, the perpetrators were not brought to justice, as either they were given “special benefits” or they had political influence on their side.
Most victims were arrested as part of an aggressive police campaign against petty crimes and were tortured to obtain confessions. They were tortured in local police stations, often in interrogation rooms and sometimes taken to undisclosed places.
When the torture victims tried to seek accountability, they faced harassment, intimidation and obstruction at the hands of the police.
The absence of an independent mechanism to investigate police abuses has created a serious accountability vacuum.
In recent times, hardly a single police official in Rawalpindi had been successfully prosecuted for committing torture.
According to some testimonies, lawyers are not allowed during questioning of suspects in detention, relatives are not informed of their detention, and suspects are tortured by police. And in the jail, the undertrial prisoners are left at the mercy of convicts, who do the torturing for the jail authorities.
A senior doctor, who had often been a member of different medical boards and had carried out medical examinations of several victims of police torture, told Dawn that the most common methods of torture included flogging with whips, beating with batons, and striking suspects on heels.
Mental torture; denial of food, water and medical treatment; and suspending a suspect from the ceiling, are some other severe techniques employed by the police.
Gul Seera Bibi, who was arrested by the women police on February 2 last year, was found dead in the police station. The police claimed that she committed suicide, but her family alleged that she was tortured to death.
Besides Gul Seera Bibi, Mohammad Hafeez (an undertrial prisoner), Abdul Jabbar and Abdul Qayoom also died in custody, apparently due to torture.
At least seven cases in which the people, including a CIA police official, were tortured in custody had come to light so far this year.
Gul Raheem was brought to the hospital with torture marks on January 14 by the Ganjmandi police. Two undertrial prisoners — Sher Riaz and Liaquat Ali — were shifted to hospital from Adiala jail, while Shahnaz Bibi, who was being investigated by the Banni police, was also taken to a hospital with torture marks.
A CIA police constable, Tahir Arif, was brought to the hospital with severe torture marks on his body. He was interrogated by the police in connection with sale of fireworks seized by the police.
The two latest torture victims — Yasir Rashid and Imran Shahzad — were taken to the hospital from different city areas.
Bold promises, like the ones guaranteeing a change in the system not just the change of faces, have been made by the political bigwigs through the media.
These promises are welcomed by the innocent people, especially those who had fallen victim to the existing system and still struggling to get justice.
With a general mood of pessimism, the public eagerly awaits whether they (the politicians) will be able to change the system.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.