LAHORE: A torture cell allegedly operated by the Gujjarpura station (SHO) house officer along with three agents to keep the suspects in custody on the pretext of the interrogation was unearthed in the provincial capital on Monday.
Two handcuffs and four other men were recovered from the cell established by the police in a local office of the forest department. The cell was unearthed by anti-corruption department officials, who were in the field to investigate a case, an official told Dawn.
He said that during their investigation, anti-corruption officials heard screams, tracked them to a building located right in the middle of a jungle and filmed what they saw. They found six men locked up, including a bedridden man, identified as Amjad, in serious condition due to the seemingly third-degree torture of the alleged police.
In the images recorded on a mobile phone, Amjad is seen telling officials that his spine and hips were severely fractured and that he could not even move in the bed provided by forest department employees in his repeated requests.
Anti-corruption officials discover cells installed in the forestry department office, recover six men
He claimed that the alleged police officers entered his house climbing the border walls, dragged his wife and children and then put him in a police van without informing him of the reason for his arrest. He was taken to the forest department building a few days ago and subjected to severe torture, which caused fractures, he said.
Amjad also told officials that he had not yet been informed of any cases brought against him, claiming that when he asked, the police beat him all night. Instead of taking him to a hospital, he was kept locked in the building, he claimed.
The stories of other captives were no different from those of Amjad.
Irfan Ali said he ran a small makeup and jewelry store and the police picked him up, brought him here and locked him in the building. He was also tortured when asked about the charges against him.
An old man, Zafar, said he worked at the Parinda market from where the policemen put him in a van and brought him here. He said he was not aware of any charges or cases brought against him.
Most captives said police officers would come at night just to torture them.
When the video reached the high command of the police and went viral on social media, the Punjab police inspector general (IGP), retired captain Arif Nawaz, noticed and ordered the police officer of Lahore Capital City , BA Nasir, to investigate the incident. The investigation was finally conducted by a police superintendent (SP).
The IGP in recent meetings had addressed the issue of torture and deaths in police custody. He had distributed a political guideline throughout the province with strict instructions to police officers on the ground that he would not tolerate the torture of suspects, particularly deaths in police custody.
However, despite these instructions, these incidents continued: two deaths in police custody were recently reported.
The discovery of this "torture cell" brought more shame to the IGP when it was reported that an SHO and three other police officers were operating it to allegedly keep the suspects in custody on behalf of the interrogation.
"I am surprised to discover the torture cell run by the SHO and the other police officers despite the clear permanent instructions of the Punjab IGP," said Ismail Kharrak, Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations).
He said there was zero tolerance for such illegal and immoral acts, adding that Gujjarpura SHO Muhammad Raza Jafri and other police officers have been suspended from service after they were found guilty in the investigation conducted by the SP. He said the department would continue to act against them under the rules to fix them responsibly for committing this illegal act.
Published on Dawn, August 27, 2019