An artistic 'no' to police brutality -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

An artistic ‘no’ to police brutality

KARACHI: There was a skit and musical performance outside the Karachi Press Club on Saturday to highlight an incident of police brutality in Lahore whereby the SHO of the Shadman Police Station, Rana Zulfiqar, barged into the Nairang Art gallery and slapped the lady curator and the staff on August 2.

It was also meant to highlight the gruff police behaviour towards a group of artistes in Abbottabad last month on charges of spreading moral laxity.

The programme, put up by the Tehreek-e-Niswan headed by Sheema Kirman, and other citizens’ groups, featured a skit by her group about the officious attitude police are generally associated with and their highhanded and unjust methods. It was a satire on the reputed double standards of the police when it comes to enforcing rule of law, one set of rules for the masses and the opposing set of mores for themselves. The skit, titled, “Main Afsar Hoon” (“I am an officer”, depicted the heavy-handed attitude police adopt in wrongly apprehending criminals, sometimes real ones and often innocent people to extort money from them.

At one juncture in the skit, the police boss orders his subordinates, “Sab Bepurdah Auraton Ko Ander Karo”. Towards the end, police arrest a young man and woman who are just viewing paintings at an exhibition in an art gallery and charge them with “immoral conduct”. A melee follows in which the young man falls as if he had been killed, which many construed as an allusion to the recent shooting to death of Sarfaraz Shah in cold blood by paramilitary soldiers.

It all ends up with all the cast singing songs of hope and optimism in unison, like “Who Subah to Ayegi Jab Raat Ka Andhera Dhale Ga”.

A mural by Feica and a digital banner by Khuda Bakshsh Abro very implicitly captured police brutality.

Protesters condemned a sharp increase in incidents of police brutality all over the country. They also had placards pinned to their backs reading, “Police Ki Dehshatgardi Namanzoor”.

They spelt out their demands which were as follows:

-The culprit, the SHO Shadman Police Station, tender an immediate written apology to the lady curator and be punished by his departmental head under article IV of the Police Order 2002.

-Immediate countrywide police reforms be effected to sensitise the police force to deal with the public with responsibility and dignity and thus inspire public confidence.

-Depoliticise the police force so that police personnel could be held accountable for violations of citizens’ self-respect.

-Cultural spaces like art galleries and theatres be protected by law as important institutions that promote diverse forms of cultural expression that is an integral of democratic societies.
Source: The News
Date:8/14/2011