Woman constable
The powerful picture of the lady constable arresting the man involved in misbehavior that was hailed on social media soon turned into disappointment after lawyer was released Image Credit: Twitter

Islamabad: Faiza Nawaz, a woman Punjab Police constable, has resigned saying in a video message that “she cannot face the powerful corrupt mafia”.

Nawaz’s message comes after a man who assaulted her was released from jail. Lawyer Ahmad Mukhtar had slapped Nawaz when she cautioned him against parking his car in a no-parking area in Ferozwala town of Punjab’s Sheikhupura. She then arrested the lawyer for the assault.

Pictures of Nawaz arresting Mukhtar were hailed on social media and it was believed that justice was served. However, much to the dismay of citizens, the lawyer was released the next day due to a mistake in his name in the first information report (FIR). His release was a huge disappointment and embarrassment for Nawaz, who then demanded President Arif Alvi and Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa take notice of the incident.

In her video message, Nawaz complained that she is fed up with “the unjust, tyrannical, and cruel system. I don’t understand whether I should commit suicide or die. Where should I go? I’m really mentally depressed because I’m worried about my respect … about my future.”

Lawyers call the arrest insulting

The powerful picture of a woman constable arresting her attacker was welcomed by citizens but was termed as “insulting and humiliating act of police towards lawyers” by Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Syed Amjad Shah. In a statement, the bar council “condemned the registration of FIR and arrest of Ahmad Mukhtar” and demanded inquiry and strict action.

However, Nawaz said “the behaviour of the lawyers [towards police] has been insulting in the past but the lawyer crossed all limits when he attacked and slapped me.”

She regrets joining the police service to serve the public, especially women seeking justice.

“Now I am feeling dejected that I did not get justice, despite doing my duty honestly,” she said.

She has also requested security for herself and her family in an application submitted to the police. She feels humiliated because of her “character assassination” and “weak response” of law enforcing agencies.

Response of Punjab police and government

According to the latest information, the Punjab police and government have reportedly persuaded the policewoman not to quit her job. Sheikhupura District Police Officer (DPO) Ghazi Salahuddin was quoted as saying by an English daily that he had held a meeting with the constable and claimed that she was not resigning now. Punjab chief minister’s spokesman Shahbaz Gill lamented the granting of bail to the suspect over a minor mistake in the FIR and also said Nawaz would not resign.

Punjab Police under fire

Punjab police has been continuously under fire over alleged violent acts after disturbing videos and photos of torture surfaced on social media. Most recently, a gardener Amir Masih died in police custody in Lahore. Earlier, the father of the mentally disabled man, Salahuddin Ayubi, who died in police custody in Rahim Yar Khan, claimed that his son was tortured. In another viral video, a police officer was seen misbehaving with an old lady. Although Punjab Inspector General Police Captain Arif Nawaz Khan has said that arrests have been made and inquiries ordered in all the cases, the woman police officer’s case reveals how deep the problems run.

Police reforms

After the recent incidents, activists and citizens are calling for police reforms that were once the top agenda of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s PTI government. Talking to Gulf News, activist Jibran Nasir asked: “How can common citizens feel safe when those in police uniforms don’t feel secure themselves?”

“The common perception is that police only protects and safeguard the right of elites which has shaken the trust of public,” Nasir said.

Stressing for immediate measures to improve the law and order department, he said: “First, there should be proper research to study psychological and social behaviour of the police in order to bring improvement in the services and build trust between police and citizens.”

Urgent measures by police

In an attempt to placate critics, IGP Punjab has announced that the police would register FIRs against police officials involved in cases of torture or death in custody, while the station house officer (SHO) involved in such incidents would be blacklisted for being posted at any police station.

Meanwhile, spokesperson to the Punjab Chief Minster, Dr Shahbaz Gill, said that the provincial government would soon introduce reforms in the police force and added that a report in this regard has been sent to PM Imran Khan for final approval. He told the media that the government was striving hard to make things better and added that a positive change would be visible within six month, not only in the province but across the country.