Police officers to be required to submit affidavit proving no torture cell in their jurisdiction, says spokesperson Gill

Punjab chief minister’s spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill announced that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had ordered that every deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and district police officer (DPO) would be required to submit an affidavit that there was no torture cell within their respective station’s jurisdiction.

The order comes after several cases came to light recently of suspects dying in the custody of Punjab police due to alleged torture.

Addressing a press conference, Gill shared some of the immediate steps the provincial government was taking to deal with the situation. He said if an incident of torture occurs following the submission of the affidavit, a first information report (FIR) will be registered against the DPOs and DSPs instead of police officers and sub-inspectors as is generally done.

Earlier, Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan had also stated that FIRs would be registered against the DPO, DSP and station house officer (SHO) concerned in the case of torture or death in custody while the SHO involved in such incidents would be blacklisted for posting at any police station.

Gill further said that Chief Minister Buzdar had expressed a desire to form an independent board, the final form of which would soon be developed and enforced in the police. In the case of an incident taking place, media persons, school teachers and people from different walks of life would be included in the board, he revealed.

The spokesman said that the watchdog they were forming would independently investigate an incident and look at what had occurred.

Gill remarked during the press conference that fixing the police was a “very difficult job”.

While noting that delivery in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had taken two-and-a-half years and would also take time in Punjab, he said that the government was not going back on its promise.

Gill said that they were also changing the interaction of police with the public.

Additionally, he said that an official would be appointed inside police stations whose only job would be to work on personal relationships.

A complaint box would also be installed near stations which would be opened once a month by the RPO and DPO. Stations would then be rated on the basis of people’s complaints, Gill added.

At the outset of his press conference, the spokesperson said that through Buzdar, Prime Minister Imran Khan had delivered a message to the service-related institutions of Punjab, at the very top of which is the police.

In the message, the police were commended for their duty during Muharram.

“The premier had a very clear message that police are for the service of the people,” Gill said, adding that the purpose of the police was not for torture people or run torture cells.

At least three cases had come to light recently of deaths caused by alleged police torture, and videos had gone viral on social media of some suspects in a distressed state while in police custody. On September 1, Salahuddin Ayubi, a man who was said to be mentally disabled, had died in police custody in Rahim Yar Khan. On the same day, a middle-aged man had passed away in Lahore after allegedly being tortured by Gujjarpura police in an illegal torture cell that was unearthed last month.

Reports also emerged that a gardener named Amir Masih had died after being illegally detained in an alleged police torture cell in Lahore.