Punjab Police Officials Detain, Rape and Torture A Minor in Pakistan

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) reports that a 17-year-old girl was abducted by police officials in Faisalabad, who ‘kept’ her for 16 days in ‘private custody’ to extract a murder confession. During that time, her elder sister was also brought into that personal ‘police lockup’ and held naked for three days ‘to pressure the sister to confess to the charges.’

‘On March 14, 2008, one Mr. Faisal son of Sakhawat attacked the house of Mr. Imran, son of Khalid Iqbal. During the exchange of fire Imran was shot and died on the spot. The deceased was the fiancee of victim and on the pursuance of the father the victim was arrested and suffered humiliation, abuse and rape to confess the murder of her own fiancee.’

In other words, two young men had a shooting match, probably over a woman, in which one of them died; the local police responded by arresting the fiance of the dead young man on suspicions of murder; and in order to extract a confession, ran a 16-day torture and sexual abuse campaign that involved everything in the book, and all that was not in it. For sure, Guantanamo Bay prison officials may have some rules to follow and someone to answer to but a private prison run by a Punjab police officer in rural or urban Punjab may not have either.

Labourer Manzoor Ahmad, father of the two victims/survivors, after many unsuccessful attempts to contact ‘higher police officials’ to register a case against the perpetrators, ‘filed an application on July 01, 2008, in the court of Mr. Nadeem Gulzar, the additional session judge, who ordered the police station of Nishatabad to register the case of rape in custody, illegal detention, torture and keeping naked in lockup. However, the district police refused to follow the orders of the session judge. On July 18, the police station filed the case against SI Investigations, Shujat Malhi, under section 376 of criminal procedural code (rape) but not on the other charges which were ordered by the session judge. Until now no one has been arrested and all the perpetrators continue in their duties as usual.’

The AHRC report also cites an earlier case involving the same SI Iinvestigations Shujat Malhi, where when a 21-year-old woman of Jaranwala District was raped by two persons who were arrested but this officer took bribes and then released them. It may sound ironic but he did first ask the woman survivor for the money but was refused.

Raise your voice against this ongoing aggression against women by Punjab Police officers:
Send An Appeal Letter

These are not isolated cases. View the Uddari Report on human rights violations in pakistan prepared from the last ten years of ‘Urgent Appeals’ section at AHCR. Countless instances of sexual violence against women in the Punjab are carried out by influential men of an area against the women, children and men of less privileged groups. The power-hungry men who try to disgrace women enjoy privileges that are economic, political, racial, religious and gender-based. These are local landholders, industrialist, religious leaders, government officials, police and army personnel. The ‘less-privileged’ groups include women, racial and religious minority communities, peasants, labourers, the homeless, and human rights and democracy activists.

Most acts of violence committed against women as individuals are being committed by influential men against women who are living in poverty in rural and urban Punjab; and, most crimes committed against women as a population group are committed by religiously-charged men of privileged and non-privileged groups who believe that it is their duty to gain control over womens’ sexuality by forcing them to follow a certain belief system. The truth is, I fail to find a notion more vulgar than this though forwarding the story of Adam and Eve as a serious creation theory comes close.

The AHRC suggests to send letters to Punjab authorities to take action against the police officials of Faisalabad; to urge the authorities to provide protection to women; and, to pay compensation to the victims. Sample letter is online at the AHRC Website, click below:
Send An Appeal Letter

Information pointed to by Baseer Naveed of Asian Human Rights Commission baseer@ahrchk.org at [cmkp] Digest Number 1554

Thriving on the Culture of Exclusion: Punjab Auqaf

Durbar Baba Bulleh Shah

This is the resting place of a great Malamti Sufi Poet Baba Bulleh Shah (1680 to 1790) in Qasur, Pakistan. Every year in August, people come here from all over Punjab and Pakistan to celebrate his work and person. Bulleh Shah is part of the proud tradition of South Asia that nurtures equality and celebrates diversity; that takes a clear stand against discrimination on the basis of religion, sexuality, race and gender.

Bullah in his verses taught us that people who follow different religions or are born into them, are equal; that organized religions are discriminatory idealogies; and through his life, he showed us that the highest form of spirituality may sometimes reveal itself in gay love; that whatever our race, the basic fact that must rule is that we are all human beings; and though he did not preach feminism, i have yet to read a verse written by him that smacks of gender discrimination. Then why, in the name of Bullah, women are not allowed to set foot in his shrine?

Durbar Baba Bulleh Shah

The red line on the right highlights the notice that says that women are not allowed to go beyond that point; that means we can not go through the door, can not touch the stone that surrounds Bullah or pick up a couple of flowers from the top; and, we can not receive a rose and jasmine garland from the caretaker inside.

The two lines on the left, frame a part of Bullah’s verse now etched in stone but still not heeded. He says, and like most of Bullah’s verses, this one is also known to people throughout Punjab by heart, ‘Jis tun lugeya ishq kamal, naachay bay sur tay bay taal’. It means a body that has been touched by devotional love, dances without rythm and without beat or out of rythm and out of beat.

The line on the floor shows how far i can go; and, the person standing smack in the middle of the door is there to guard against the possibility that i may try to get in. His fears are not unfounded; this is what i did when i came in the courtyard ten minutes back because I knew that my only chance was to take them by surprise. And so, by the time they stopped me and then pushed me out of the shrine, i had done it. I had gone in, touched the stone, and took a few flowers lying on top of it.

It is important for me to tell you why i did that. I did that to tell myself that Bulleh Shah is as much ‘mine’ as he is anyone else’s in this world, and that i am not going to let Mehkma Auqaaf define Bulleh Shah in terms where the culture of lokai people is again taken over by religious bigots. And the reason i knew that ‘surprise’ will work, is because i faced the same situation at Jeevay Madhulal Hussain’s in Lahore time and again; caretakers at his Durbar would become alert upon seeing me enter the courtyard even when i had only crashed the prohibited door on my first visit.

At the place of Baba Sohna Bulleh Shah, I did not ask for the garland when i went in because the caretaker was busy pushing me out but that is okay because my friend Amarjit Chandan who was welcome inside with Afzal Sahir and Abdullah Malik, was kind enough to give me his garland. Here is this ‘privileged’ group of people; or should i say here are some of the ‘privileged’ members of my group; or simply, a group of ‘privileged’ people flanked by two additional distinctive individuals.

Durbar Baba Bulleh Shah

The fourth person from this group, Akram Varraich, though also equally privileged can not be seen in this photo because he was taking it.

Of course, i am lucky to have so many distinctive friends but i want their privileges to increase in quality as i try to expand mine because the advantages granted by the Department of Religious affairs in Pakistan may not be worth enjoying as they exclude over half the population of the Punjab, and Pakistan. And if ‘thriving’ on the ‘culture of exclusion’ seems like an exaggeration to you, consider that segregation is or was sanctioned in so many dominant cultures, and humans in power have always created their societies by excluding ‘other’ peoples and beings.

For now, we know that the ‘Religious Affairs and Auqaf’ of Punjab Government controls over 37 shrines in the province under the Punjab Waqf Properties Ordinance of 1979. Meanwhile, here is the email address of Lieutenant General (Retired) Khalid Maqbool, Governor of Punjab since 2001: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

Chief Minister Punjab, Dost Muhammad Khosa is here: www.punjab.gov.pk

Photos by Akram Varraich first published at http://www.apna.org/

Sufi Movement
Muslim Culture
Punjabi Culture