A session court in Lahore ordering a criminal case against a sitting interior minister and some top police officers is a dire warning to the state functionaries on the unfair use of state power against their political rivals. Some lawyers, who faced police brutality during the Azadi March of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, had approached the additional district and sessions court judge seeking a case against Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for manhandling the lawyers and damaging their vehicles. Several footages emerged where it can be seen police beating the PTI activists and vandalising their vehicles to stop them from reaching Islamabad on the call of former prime minister Imran Khan. The court ordered the Bhaati Gate police to register a criminal case under sections 22A and 22B of the CrPC. As the court order is binding upon the police, no doubt that the case would be registered, but it has yet to see if the police would act fairly during the investigation of the case. The court order provided a reason to the lawyer to celebrate the occasion, as the order also reads that “the ex-officio justice of the peace was not supposed to act mechanically, rather he was required to act judiciously and while doing so he must peruse record, hear arguments, and make up his opinion”.
Police torture on unarmed civilians is no secret, During the Azad March crackdown, the police acted in their usual refrain of cruelty and unleashed a reign of terror and torture of political activists. Several women and elderly activists suffered injuries and were hospitalized. Also, hundreds of workers were arrested in late-night raids at their houses. Among them was the house of the daughter-in-law of the national poet, the late Dr Muhammad Iqbal. Though later the police offered an apology, the incident points to the level of the ruthlessness of the police in pursuance of the orders from senior police officials and ministers. At the end of the day, it emerged that the police acted in haste. The Supreme Court’s intervention allowed the procession into the federal capital, which later dispersed peacefully. The PTI is again seeking the Supreme Court’s decision to hold the second phase of the march to coerce the government into announcing an election date. The court has yet to take up the case, meanwhile, the FIR against minister Rana Sanaullah should serve the purpose: the federal minister should allow the next PTI march into Islamabad. The government must tolerate political activities, and whenever the chances of violence become high, the police should only be used for the protection of the activity and nearby properties.