Last weekend, my friend Abuzar was picked up by Punjab Police in Lahore. He had to spend a night in Model town police station, in a lock up.
Reason: his long hair.
Abuzar is an artist & a teacher. He was waiting for a Rickshaw near Kalma Chawk when a police van stopped him. They asked for his ID card, which luckily he had. He showed the ID card. The police officer then asked others to put him in the police van ‘Ainu Gaddi wich Pao’. Abuzar asked the officer what the issue was. The officer continued to threaten and scare him by saying that he will find out the issue once he reaches the police station. That the issue was his ‘Hulia’/appearance, his ‘lambay Baal’ and that he is out on the street at 3 am.
Abuzar kept explaining that he is a teacher and an artist. However, The police harassment did not stop and they forced him to sit in the van and he was taken to the police station. At the police station, they checked him & his bag. They found nothing except a few books. The officer who checked him asked ‘thaanaydar Saifullah’ to let him go at his pint. But, no. He didn’t agree and instead asked his junior to put Abuzar in the lockup.
He insisted that he wanted to teach Abuzar a lesson for his long hair & appearance. That a Night in jail would be good for him to know that he dare not look the way he chooses to. Abuzar reached out to friends through Facebook to seek legal support before his phone was taken. Abuzar spent the night in lockup before his friends got him out the next day. Why was he arrested? police officer Saifullah knew that he can bully Abuzar bec he was looking for a rickshaw & not sitting in a private car. That he could harass him without facing consequences.
I am furious. This is how easy it is for someone to misuse their power to harass and bully a teacher, an artist, a law abiding citizen. Saifullah will likely face no consequences for misusing his position. Why are our institutions that are running from our taxes & meant. To protect actually operating to threaten us? Saifullah knew he can threaten Abuzar & get away with it. That this is some sort of twisted and fucked up power high. That he won’t face any consequences for bullying a citizen. That he is confirming the fear we have from the police.
Abuzar is out & safe now. I don’t know how many people face harassment from the police everyday. The fear that the police could’ve easily taken a step further & even further if they wanted – is real. And that we sit here accepting it all is making me more furious.