Custodial Deaths: A Matter of Concern

[wp_ad_camp_1]Cases of Custodial Deaths on the Rise Especially in Karachi

By Zaib Azkaar Hussain


Another incident of ‘death in custody’ was reported in Karachi on Wednesday (April 24). This is for the third time in this year 2019 that a man was reported to be died in the police custody.

In the recent incident another man Muhammad Saleem allegedly died in some mysterious circumstances. The deceased is said to have committed suicide.

It is obvious that the police officials concerned would be questioned for the grave negligence that led to the death of a man while he was in police custody.

In this incident, the police are being held responsible for failing to protect the very right to life of a citizen Muhammad Saleem. Deceased Saleem who was picked from the area of Gulshan-e- Iqbal and brought to a police station located in the New Karachi.

The police have claimed that accused of a car lifting case, Muhammad Saleem was kept under detention, at a lock-up housed at the premises of the New Karachi police station, when he managed to get some piece of rope and hanged himself to death.

The deceased is said to have approached a bathroom adjoining to the lockup and hanged himself over there.

The police brought the dead body to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) where the post-mortem was conducted in front of a judicial magistrate (concerned) that sealed the report later on.

According to the ASH additional police surgeon, Dr Saleem no sign of torture was witnessed on the body. Instead, he said, a mark of rope on the neck of the deceased was noticed that showed that the accused had committed suicide. It is surprising (if the police claim is considered to be true beyond doubt), that a man who was not involved in some heinous cases, found it fit to commit suicide in order to get rid of the police detention.

In the first week of February this year, a young man namely Bilal had died mysteriously while he was said to be kept in the police custody. The 21-year-old deceased Bilal was said to have rushed to the ASH while he had sustained serious injuries. According to the police surgeon, Aejaz Khokhar the wounded youth was brought by the police to the ASH, but they (the concerned cops) took him back after initial medical treatment. However late night he was again brought to the ASH as his condition got worsened in the police custody.

On this custodial death, the Additional Inspector General of Police Dr Ameer Shaikh took notice and ordered a probe within three days. Following the incident of death of the youth, Station House Officer (SHO) of the Taimuria police station Chaudhry Tufail and some four personnel of his police party were booked and arrested.

In this case the deceased was described to be arrested in an injured state after an exchange of fire.

An FIR No 50/19 under Sections 302/34 (murder) was registered at the Taimuria police station on behalf of the victim’s brother, Bilawal Humayun, against SHO Tufail and his police party. “The police kidnapped me and my brother from the Hyderi area,” the complainant claimed. “The policemen later dropped me on the Super Highway but didn’t release my brother and took him away with them to an unknown location.”

It may be mentioned that following mysterious death of Bilal, several of his family members, relatives and friends had gathered outside the Taimuria police station and had staged a protest against the custodial death of the detained youth, demanding a strict action against the policemen responsible for it.

Some local leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had joined the protesters and condemned the incident. The PTI leaders demanded an immediate registration of a murder case and arrests of the policemen concerned, including the SHO concerned. A PTI leader Haleem Adil Shaikh went to say that some black sheep in the police department were killing people. He had declared that and no one should be given a license for extrajudicial.

The first incident of the year had taken place on Jan 2, when a man identified as Qaim Ali allegedly died in the custody of the Defence police. However, the police had denied the charges and claimed that a citizen named as Tariq Mustafa had informed them that his driver suffered a heart attack while sitting in his car outside his home and sought police’s assistance to shift him to a hospital but the man died.

It would be appropriate to mention that the human right organisations have been questioning the issue of deaths in custody.

Reportedly some political activists and others who had nothing to do with the politics were arrested by the police and later died in suspicious conditions. In several cases, the victim families had been alleging that since they failed to pay huge amount to the kidnappers (claiming themselves to be the cops) and they (victim families) had to face deaths of their members who were kept under illegal detention.

It may be mentioned that an annual security report issued by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) covering the situation from 2013 to 2018 though expressed satisfaction over the decrease in terrorist activities, killings and crimes against the law-abiding citizens in Pakistan, it counted 80 custodial deaths. In 2018, it found six incidents of custodial deaths in 2018 in the country. The report actually deals with the fatalities through security operations and it recorded only one incident of beaten to death (custodial, hate crime) in 2018.

In Karachi several cops including senior police officers are facing trials against charges of killing of four young men in a fake encounter case.

The cops in this infamous killings of four detained men, were alleged to have kidnapped and killed Naqeebullah Mehsud, Muhammad Ishaque, Muhammad Sabir and Nazar Jan in a staged police encounter in Shah Latif Town in District Malir on January 13, 2018.

Some cops are also facing alleged killing of two young men in two separate cases pertaining to charges of murder of two men in two fake police encounters. A 19-year-old Intezar Ahmed was allegedly killed by some Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) cops in January 2018 in a fake encounter. Later in another incident, another young man namely Maqsood was allegedly killed on January 20, 2018. Although the two (cited) incidents are different from the serious issue of ‘deaths in custody’ but they are also a reflection of careless rather criminal role of some of the cops who do not bother to follow the rules and regulations in dealing with the law-abiding citizens.


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