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‘Police extorting money, torturing people’: AHRC lists Pakistan’s atrocities in Gilgit-Baltistan

India TV News Desk New Delhi 12 Aug 2016, 0:04:05 AM IST
India TV News Desk

Pakistan, which has been on an overdrive to embarrass India by raising the bogey of human rights ever since Indian security forces killed Burhan Wani, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, now has a good reason to step back and introspect.

In a stinging indictment that should make Pakistan eat its own words, a report by the Asian Human Rights Commission has accused Islamabad of encouraging police excesses and torture in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Laying bare Pakistan government’s brutality in the PoK, the commission has now called on the state to immediately ensure accountability and put in place a mechanism of checks and balances to prevent such incidents and prosecute those involved in such crimes.

The report further goes on to provide damning evidence of poor law enforcement in the Gilgit Baltistan region, once a part of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to the report, the local police, which is supposed to look after the law and order situation in the region, is actually extorting money from people and beating up those who are not giving them what they want.

“There are no adequate checks and balances on society on the part of the government. As a result, police officers do not follow the rule of ‘no torture’. Also, the magistrates do not follow the rules for remand because of insufficient background in the law,” the report said.

In its report, the AHRC cites a case of police torture of Shabbir Hussain, a resident of Chalat Bala district in Gilgit-Baltistan. Shabbir was severely thrashed and bruised for refusing to heed a Jirga verdict (a traditional assembly of local leaders that make decisions by consensus and according to the teachings of Islam).

According to the AHRC report, in June this year, the local police entered Shabbir’s home and arrested him without a warrant. He was illegally detained and beaten with long sticks by Constable Iftikhar and Station House Officer (SHO) Iqbal.

He was only released from police custody after local notables intervened. The AHRC said that no FIR was lodged against Shabbir, yet he was tortured and detained for interrogation at the Chalat police station.

The AHRC report further mentioned that with the police handling the prosecution department, tortures of individuals are not reported. Torture is not considered a crime in Pakistan, and that even victims think it is a routine matter and don't report it.

What comes as a surprise to the AHRC is that the Gilgit Baltistan region is not represented in the Pakistan’s Constitution.

The state asserts its power through law enforcement agencies to subjugate the populace who do not have any fundamental rights under the de facto administration. The victims of torture have no right of reprisal and thus suffer in silence.

According to the AHRC, the reality is that there is an archaic colonial system of policing in Pakistan and particularly in a region as peaceful as Gilgit Baltistan, and therefore, because of this, the area becomes crime infested sooner than later.

Recently, demands for merging with India in the region had gained momentum with locals alleging large human rights violations and illegal detentions on the soil on which Pakistan has been claiming rights for Kashmiris.

A so-called elections in the region – dismissed by India as a farce – threw up a landslide victory for Nawaz Sharif-led Lakistan Muslim League (N). The results were followed by widespread protests in the region, with locals alleging that the elections were rigged.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) on Thursday saw huge protest as people came on street to protest against illegal occupation of Pakistan and the rigging in recently concluded elections. 

A so-called elections in the region – dismissed by India as a farce – threw up a landslide victory for Nawaz Sharif-led Lakistan Muslim League (N). The results were followed by widespread protests in the region, with locals alleging that the elections were rigged.

Since the results were announced, people have continuously registering their protest in PoK’s Mirpur, Kotli, Chinari and Neelam Valley area.

People were seen raising slogans of “Pakistan go back” and “Pakistan down” while waving black flags.