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Pakistan grapples from fallout of clash between Army and police personnel. Netizens ask, 'Why the kalesh?'

Several disturbing videos of Pakistani police officials being tortured by Army personnel went viral on social media, raising speculation. Reports suggested that the "face-off" began with the "illegal detention" of an Army official's relative for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Lahore Published on: April 13, 2024 16:00 IST
Pakistan Army, clash, pakistan police
Image Source : X Several Pakistan police officials were allegedly tortured by Army officers.

Lahore: A violent "stand-off" between the Punjab police officers and the Pakistani Army has gripped the nation, with the provincial government and the all-powerful military announcing joint investigations into the matter. A string of video clips went viral on social media showing Army officers assaulting police officers on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations across Pakistan.

One clip showed a man sitting on the ground with a bloody nose, while another showed army personnel kneeling in a line. After much speculation on social media, the Pakistan Army's media wing said that an "unfortunate incident" had occurred in Bahawalnagar. The military promised a "fair and deliberate inquiry" to determine responsibility for violation of laws.

What is the 'kalesh' between Pakistan Army and police?

According to several reports, the clash between the Punjab police and the Army occurred after the cops recovered an illegal weapon from the relative of a soldier and detained him. Despite the Punjab Police denouncing the reports on social media as “fake propaganda”, the videos showed disturbing visuals of police being tortured by troops.

In some videos, the police appeared severely bruised and pleaded their attackers to stop, while other officers were stomped by the Army personnel. The injured police personnel were taken to a nearby hospital but curiously, their medico-legal examination was not allowed, as per reports.

According to Dawn, ASI Mohammed Naeem and SHO Rizwan Abbas raided the house of Mohammed Anwar, a resident of Chak Sarkari, on April 7 to arrest his son Rafaqat over possession of an unlicensed pistol. However, Anwar's other son Mohammed Khaleel, an army official, took the policemen hostage with the help of his brother Mohammed Idrees and other family members.

Soon after, another police team reached the spot to free the SHO and ASI, and allegedly tortured and arrested Anwar and his sons. The police also ransacked the house, a video of which also went viral on social media. Later, a case was registered against 23 family members of Mohammad Anwar by the Madressah police. The Bahawalnagar district police officer initiated an inquiry into the matter after learning of the detention.

Four personnel of Madressah police, including Abbas, Naeem and constables Ali Raza and Mohammad Iqbal, have been arrested and charged with illegal detention of Anwar and his family, dereliction of duty and misuse of authority. Another policeman was suspended a departmental inquiry has been initiated against him for airing “misinformation” regarding the matter on social media.

What did the police and Army say?

The Dawn report mentions that the accused policeman conducted the raid in violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and did not inform their high-ups that the arrest included a serving army personnel. Two senior police officials said that the matter was solved before April 10 but a "malicious" campaign on social media did the damage.

The officials said things took an ugly turn after the Eid prayers when almost 50 to 60 army personnel from the Bahawalnagar Brigade in around 10 vehicles stormed a police station, took over the premises and severely tortured the four imprisoned cops. An inspector-ranked official said that Army personnel had beaten policemen like animals in front of prisoners and vandalised the police station, saying that the only fault of the policemen was to take action against an army official, whose "brothers were robbers".

The Punjab government has formed a joint inquiry team to investigate the matter. “The Bahawalnagar incident is regrettable and the Punjab Government has formed a Joint Inquiry Team comprising the Home Department as well as state security agencies to ascertain facts and fix responsibility for this incident,” an official spokesperson said.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Army, said, "To bring the matter to its logical conclusion and to ensure that those responsible for breach of laws and abuse of authority are held fully accountable without any discrimination, a Joint Investigation Team comprising army, intelligence and police authorities is being formed for impartial and independent investigation into the incident and apportion responsibility."

The issue was promptly addressed and resolved through collaborative efforts of the military and police authorities however “certain factions with vested motives started fanning vitriolic propaganda” on social media to create divisions between state institutions and government departments, it said.

(with inputs from agencies)

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