LAHORE - If you are an influential person or a billionaire then this homeland belongs to you, otherwise you deserve no rights and no respect in this “police state.”

This is what the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi went through during his visit to Lahore on this weekend. Shameful scenes were seen by many motorists at one of the entry-points in Lahore when policemen misbehaved with no other than the Chief Justice of IHC only to give clean route to a private motorcade of a bigwig’s grandson near the motorway.

Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi was travelling to Lahore in a staff car Thursday evening and without any official protocol. The judge was in line at a police check-post at Shera Kot when police officials stopped his vehicle to give passage to a VIP motorcade. Policemen repeatedly tapped the hood of the vehicle of Justice Kasi and caused it to stop until the motorcade leaves the checkpoint.

Sources familiar with the development say when the vehicle of Justice Anwar Kasi reached Shera Kot check post, the private convoy of vehicles also reached there. In order to give protocol to that convoy the Lahore Police stopped all other vehicles including the vehicle of Justice Anwar Kasi at the check-post. The police personnel deployed there reportedly manhandled the IHC chief justice to facilitate the powerful man. Justice Kasi immediately informed Justice Umar Ata Bandial about the highhandedness of the Lahore Police. Chief Justice Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Bandial took notice of the incident and called an inquiry report from the Punjab police for halting unnecessarily the car of Justice Kasi. The Punjab Inspector General Police has been asked to submit the report about the incident.

Thanks God, the cops did not shoot down the chief justice at the picket. Last week, policemen shot dead a poor factory worker at a picket in Shadbagh area of Lahore for quarrelling with the cops during routine checking. Hundreds of people staged a strong protest demonstration against the police highhandedness by blocking Bund Road, and disrupting traffic flow for a few hours. But neither the Punjab government nor the Lahore High Court took notice of merciless killing. Reportedly, police tried to hush up the matter by declaring the poor worker as a robber. But when his co-workers came to the streets, the police admitted that an unarmed citizen was murdered by a cop in a “friendly fire.”

Initial investigations revealed that the policemen opened fire on the cyclist, identified as Muhammad Yasin, as he tried to flee physical search at a picket. Cops often rob poor workers of their belongings in the name of frisk at pickets.

The policemen shot dead the father of four when he exchanged harsh words with them. Resident of Chichawatni, Yasin, was on his way to a plastic factory where he was working as a machine-man when the cops signaled him to stop. The unarmed man leaving his bicycle on the road ran towards the factory gate but the cops opened fire.

A police spokesman claimed that a constable had been arrested in connection of the incident and further investigation is underway.

What experienced the IHC Chief Justice at a police picket in Lahore, everyday every citizen goes through this malpractice because of the VIP and VVIPs movement when the police block general traffic for several minutes to provide safe passage to the VIPs. 

Motorists often are seen quarrelling with wardens at the traffic signals and ambulances are regularly seen trapped in the traffic chaos during VIP movement in Lahore. As a matter of fact, the Punjab province is a police state where the law enforcing agencies provide protocol to the VIP’s, and VVIP’s at the cost of common man.

Following the pattern of Justice Kasi, the top judges and the provincial hierarchy should also travel on the roads without official protocol and convoy of gun-toting cops to understand and realize what is happening on the ground. How the poor are humiliated and abused by the influential persons and even by the state organs in every nook and corner of the country.

In Lahore, people are humiliated and robbed by cops at the pickets in the name of security checking. In posh localities dance parties are organized under police protocol while gambling dens are operating under police patronage. But only the poor and penniless people are ‘brought to justice’ in case they commit any social crimes.

Critics say the police are a unique and corruption-riddled force that accepts bribe for torturing and no torturing an accused in custody. Simultaneously, the police provide protocol to the powerful and humiliate the powerless. The high-drama of the arrest and release of a lady-driver in Model Town on Saturday evening is a case in point. The Model Town police crossed all limits to get cheap popularity for putting the daughter of a powerless politician behind the bars in the male police station. Not enough, SP Model Town Tariq Aziz immediately called in TV crews and cameramen to disclose to the public that the Lahore police had achieved a ‘big task.’

Ironically, as a practice the police presents hardened criminals before the media after covering their faces. But in this case, the police especially called in TV crews to film the daughter of Qasim Zia after detaining her in a car accident case, a bail-able offense. Some people whisper that the Model Town SP Tariq Aziz arranged “all the media show” on the behest of political rivals of Qasim Zia, former Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly. By the way, when the Lahore police had arrested Shan Khusro, the son of former Lahore Commissioner Khusro Pervez Bukhtiar, for shooting down his friend the police were ordered to keep the media-men away from making footage of the influential killer. The police produced the killer many times before the court but no cameraman was allowed to record the footage of the killer.