Police brutality in Pakistan is becoming a cause for concern and is being greatly evident due to the number of deaths being reported as a result of police torture. The recent case to make it to this list is the death of the ATM robber whose video went viral due to his stealing antics in Faisalabad. The same person was caught red-handed in Rahim Yar Khan and passed away in police custody. Several videos have since then surfaced online showing the alleged robber being beaten by the RYK police and the incident has caught the attention of several on social media, who are raising questions on the protocols set in place for interrogation.

There are several aspects to the case that need to be deciphered. The first is the police’s own admittance of the unstable condition of the robber. In a statement, they have pointed out that during interrogation, he was acting like a “madman”. This is a clear indication that the robber was battling mental health challenges and the police force are neither sensitised about these issues nor do they know how to deal with such criminals.

This should alert the federal authorities to introduce reforms in the police force. Several of the criminals might be mentally challenged. The police force should have the protocols in place to deal with such issues. At the same time, there is a need to establish mental health facilities that can treat such criminals in order to rehabilitate them in society once free from police custody.

The second is the brutal use of force against the robber. Police brutality should be kept in check by the state. Torture is neither permitted by our constitution nor international human rights conventions Yet in Pakistan it has become a common police practice which results in the deaths of petty criminals above all else.

The fact that police resorts to torture in minor cases is alarming and highlights primitive investigation techniques. Just a few days ago, a police torture cell was also uncovered. While it is important to catch criminals, it is also important to improve the investigation mechanism to not result in the careless loss of lives at the hands of the police force. The police force should be empowered to improve tracking techniques, and gathering information on suspects instead of just resorting to torture, as it is an extreme measure.