UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE & OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT
Accession(a), Succession(d), Ratification
17 Apr 2008
23 Jun 2010
Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN - WOMAN TORTURED OVER ATTEMPTED LAND GRAB - PERPETRATORS IMPUNITY
27 August 2013 - The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a woman was dragged onto the street and was tied to a tree by land grabbers working for a member of the provincial assembly of Punjab from the ruling party. The police reached the scene just as the perpetrators were getting ready to hang her. The police demanded that the victim pay a bribe in order to file a case against her attackers. The policemen also threatened the journalists and human rights defenders against agitating on the case of the manhandling of a woman by people from the ruling party. A case was filed against unknown persons for interfering in the official work of the police. The Station House Officer says that the journalists and human rights defenders protesting against the police and perpetrators would be booked in the 'open FIR'.
Information as received from the International Human Rights Commission, Pakistan (IHRC)
Ms. Ghulam Fatima, 38, wife of Haji Noor Ali, a taxi driver, resident of
Street No. 3 Kachi Abadi Kamir, Sahiwal, Punjab, was abducted by more than half
a dozen persons including women, on 13 August 2013. The gang leader, Mr.
Jahangir is a well known criminal who was just a few days earlier released from
jail. He was leading the gang and wanted to kill her with the help of some
women so that it would be seen as a fight between the women on some petty
issue. The gang is famous for grabbing the land of poor people if they do not
agree to sell their property at the price offered by the gang. The gang
survives under the patronage of one Mr. Arshad Malik, a member of the Punjab
provincial party belonging to the ruling party, PML-N.
Ms. Fatima was asked many times to sell her property and house where she also runs a small grocery shop. She refused to do so as she does not have any other source of income. On 13 August, Fatima's house was attacked by six persons. She was beaten and dragged by the hair and paraded through the busy market place. The perpetrators took her to the house of their leader, Jahangir, where she was beaten severely by several of the men. Then she was tied to a tree inside the compound. After hearing her cries the people telephoned the Kamir Police Station, and an officer, Assistant Sub Inspector of Police (ASI) arrived and rescued Fatima just as the gang members were about to hang her. At that time she was unconscious and the police officers brought her around by splashing water on her face.
She was, first, taken to the police station and then to the hospital for medical help. She received several injuries on her body. At the time the police rescued her they did not arrest any person within the compound despite the fact that it was obvious that they were the attackers. Nor did they arrest anyone later or file a First Information Report (FIR) against the perpetrators. Instead the police, with the help of gang members, took the plea that Fatima had come to their house with the intention to kill them.
When this information was received by IHRC, its director rushed to police station and also informed the president of Press Club of Kamir and other journalists who also arrived to rescue her from the alleged criminals and the police. The police also refused to file an FIR on the pretext that they would first investigate the incident. The journalists from the print and electronic media interviewed and photographed Fatima and some people from the immediate neighbourhood and this was broadcast live over the local channels. The Station Head Officer (SHO) left the police station after finding the journalists in attendance.
When they saw the extent of the media coverage the police were upset. The next day when media persons and human rights defenders visited the police station to inquire about the filing of a criminal case against perpetrators, ASI Abid became angry and threatened them. He said that the police can conduct a fake encounter against the persons who interfere in the official work of police. The following day a case against unknown persons was filed at the Kamir Police Station for interfering in the official work of the police. The president of the Press Club, Dr. Barkat Ali Gulzar and the director of the IHRC, Mr. Sabir Shehzad were informed that if they agitate more they would be booked in the 'open FIR'. The local people also held more than one protest demonstrations against the incident of violence against a poor woman and the attitude of the police for providing protection to the perpetrators.
The local activists are accusing that the police work under the pressure from a member of the provincial assembly, Mr. Arshad Malik, who belongs to the ruling party, PML-N and who has gangs made up of notorious persons. There is very real concern that the land grabbers will take revenge from Mr. Sabir Shahzad of the IHRC for providing legal support to the victims of human rights abuses and who actively works against the issue of land grabbing in the area.
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The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women calling for her intervention into this matter.