By: Imtiaz Ali
A rare sight was witnessed during the Sindh Assembly session on Tuesday, when all provincial stood up in unison, demanding that “exemplary punishment” should be meted out to the policemen, who allegedly paraded a man and a woman naked in Gambat city, Khairpur district a few days ago.
“The incident has tarnished the image of the country in the world, as its protectors of law were seen parading a woman in naked on the streets,” Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) MPA Nusrat Abbasi told other lawmakers.
The female legislator from Khairpur said in the video clip of that incident, the woman was seen trying to cover her body with clothes, but a policeman was using a stick to hit her on her hands.
Six policemen, including Gambat SHO Khair Muhammad Samejo, the central character of the shameful episode, were suspended and arrested for publicly humiliating the couple.
The Gambat police had registered cases against them on the orders of Sukkur DIG Dr Ameer Ahmed Shaikh. Though Samejo denied the charges, he has a history of using brutal and humiliating tactics against suspects.
“How did Samejo, who remained suspended for eight years, managed to get reinstated and posted as an SHO?” asked Abbasi.
Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza stood up and said she condemned the atrocity committed by the policemen of Gambat. She asked other legislators to stand up as well and lodge their protest in unison, following which the provincial lawmakers all stood up and demanded action against the guilty policemen.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) legislator Heer Soho said media reports suggested that the suspended Gambat SHO was enjoying special treatment inside the police lock-up.
“The SHO was seen using a cell phone inside the lock-up, and was also sitting in the front seat of a police van in which he was being taken to the court.”
Soho said merely suspending the policemen involved in the act was insufficient punishment.
Law Minister Ayaz Soomro and Information Minister Sharjeel Memon tried to speak about the case on behalf of the government, but some female legislators interrupted them and inquired as why the SHO was being provided with “protocol” inside the lock-up.
The law minister said barring one or two, all policemen involved in the incident had been arrested and booked.
He said the chief minister, currently in-charge of the home department, would be asked to take appropriate action against the policemen. Soomro also promised to present a detailed report about the incident to the House on Wednesday (today).
The information minister said the government had taken action against six policemen and now it was the responsibility of the court to award them punishment. In a related development, religious groups held a demonstration in Gambat city on Monday to express support for the suspended SHO.
They claimed that the SHO was being “punished” for trying to curb “immoral activities” in Gambat.
Water shortage in Badin
On a point of order, Pakistan People Party’s (PPP) Dr Sikandar Mandhro drew the attention of the House towards an acute shortage of water in Badin, terming it a result of mismanagement. Elaborating further, he said 8,000 cusecs of water had been released from Kotri downstream, but three talukas of Badin still remained deprived of drinking water.
“Last year, floods had destroyed crops, but this year, as per officials, only 10 percent of the area could be cultivated due to the water shortage.” Mandhro said he had brought the problem to the notice of the irrigation minister and secretary, but there was no response.
Another PPP legislator, Munawar Abbasi said there was a shortage of water in the Rice Canal and for the first time, the process of rotation had been adopted for the canal of Ghar Wah. Like Mandhro, he blamed mismanagement for the water shortage. Responding to their concerns, Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo admitted there was a shortage of water in Rice and Dadu canals.
“This year, Kharif crop was sown around two months late, as there was a 50 percent shortage of water. This year, there were no rains and that also compounded the water problem.”
Dharejo said the situation in Indus River had improved now and the process of rotation was adopted to ensure fair distribution of water.