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Solid reforms a must to ensure public respect at police stations

PESHAWAR: The death of the grade-7 student in the lock up in the provincial capital has highlighted the need for real and solid reforms at the police station level to ensure basic human rights and respect of every citizen.

An upward trend has been witnessed in complaints of violation of basic human rights of the citizens in custody, during raids and at some checkpoints of police and other law-enforcement agencies across the country.

Many have also complained of being insulted by the cops and personnel of other forces during their interaction with the public in recent years.

Since police mostly deal with the public, there were a number of reforms introduced at the police station level over the last few years to provide relief to the common man. However, the priorities continued to change whenever the top bosses of the force changed over the years.

After the tragic incident of the suicide of a teenager in the lock up and the killing of another student allegedly by the cops in Faqirabad, the people are demanding real reforms at the police station level so the people feel improvement.

Citizens said the reforms must ensure the basic human rights and self-respect of every person, especially women and children.

They said it should also ensure that no innocent person is bothered or humiliated at checkpoints, during raids and search operations and at the police stations when approached for help.

A judicial inquiry has already been ordered into the death of grade-7 student Shahzeb in the lock up of the West Cantonment Police Station.

The district and sessions judge on Monday deputed a judicial magistrate to conduct an inquiry within two weeks under Section 176 CrPC into the death of Shahzeb in police custody.

Shahzeb allegedly committed suicide in the lock up of West Cantonment Police Station, but his father said that his son was tortured to death.

The staff of the police station has been suspended and the SHO arrested after the tragic incident.

Some of the junior officers of the Peshawar Police have launched a “respect the uniform” campaign as they were of the view that the bosses should have not sent a uniformed SHO behind bars only to play to the galleries. They also criticised the lodging of case under Section 302 PPC as the boy had committed suicide, which is evident from the CCTV footage.

The junior officers have been criticising the steps taken by their bosses during recent years, saying they were being made scapegoats at such occasions while the credit is always taken by the seniors.

“The reforms at the police station would benefit both the cops and the public. However, it should not be mere slogans,” said one officer. He added that the bosses want better results against terrorists, smugglers and criminals without providing sufficient number of patrolling cars and money for information and expanses so that the SHOs have no excuse for their corruption.

“How can you ensure monitoring through CCTV when most of the police stations have no light or alternate system during the electricity breakdowns? The bosses must first provide the resources, better working hours and conditions when they want SHOs to do more,” another cop opined.

Some of the reforms, however, can be brought without costing anything by posting competent and honest SHOs, moharrirs and post in-charge.

The troublemakers or those who are not doing well can be easily replaced with decent and competent SHOs who believe in serving the public instead of misusing their powers and considering themselves above the law. The good and competent officers can be hired through examinations as well as on the basis of the police special branch reports.

An improved system of keeping a check on senior and junior cops would also stop corrupt practices, misuse of power and humiliating the public.

In the case of Shahzeb, apart from other angles the cops are investigating as to why the deceased wasn’t kept in a separate observation room if he was juvenile. The officials are investigating the factors that led to the suicide.

It is also being probed as to why there was no cop to stop the extreme step by someone in custody despite the lock up being monitored via CCTV.

Many demanded educating the cops about how to politely deal with a common man during raids, snap checking and at police stations. They also need to respect the citizens, take care of their basic rights and ensure their safety in police custody.

Many have been questioning as to what made the young boy commit suicide. They also questioned that how the incident happened when the senior cops have claimed that all the police stations, offices of SHOs and lock ups were being monitored through CCTV cameras to stop the torture during custody as well as to improve the treatment with those in custody.

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