LAHORE - The raped college girl was buried in Muzaffargarh district Friday. Next morning, the provincial hierarchy from the chief minister to police chief rushed to her residence in Basti Lundi Patafi by a helicopter with VVIP protocol to express sorrow and grief with her family.

Since January, the gang-rape victim had been running from pillar to post to meet an officer to tell her ordeal but everyone was busy enough.

From the national exchequer, the well-off politician has compensated the bereaved family by handing over Rs500000 cheque. And, the chief minister has suspended a few cops to cool off public outcry – a practice done after any criminal negligence such as the Khanewal Punchayat’s stoning to death of Maryam Bibi in 2012, Lahore’s Josef Colony arson in March 2013, and Rawalpindi sectarian strife in November last. Currently, most of the officers who were removed after the above-mentioned incidents are ‘serving’ on lucrative posts in the same province.

On the other hand, hundreds of nurses are protesting near the Punjab Assembly building for the last six days, urging the authorities to regularize their service structure. On Friday, baton-wielding police broke up their rally by attacking dozens of protesters at the leading Mall Road. Several nurses were hospitalized with injuries and many were roughed up by lawmen, thanks to the government for asking the cops to teach a lesson to the protesters. But the chief minister and chief secretary are unable to spare a few moments from their tight schedule to listen to the grievances of the poor staff. Of course, they will visit the nurses for photo-session once a Muzaffargarh like situation is created in Lahore.  The case of 18-year-old Amina Bibi, who self-immolated outside a police station, has once again presented the real picture of police culture. The high-ranking ‘special investigators’ submitted to the chief minister a report on Saturday confirming that the police conducted faulty investigations.

The finding also revealed that three hours before the happening, the police had been informed that the rape victim would attempt suicide outside the police station but the officers even did not bother to convince the victim that she would be provided justice.

Why the girl lost all hopes in this criminal justice system and set her ablaze? The answer is simple that the penniless family had no money to bribe the police. Justice is available in this society only for the elite, influential, and rich persons. The poor are noticed in the developing economy only when they take extreme steps.  Following the photo-session in Muzaffargarh, the Khadme-e-Ala told reporters that police culture was being changed and soon positive changes would be observed.  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. The poor are humiliated and abused by the influential persons and even by the state organs everyday. The ordinary citizens are humiliated and robbed by cops at the pickets in the name of security checks. In posh localities dance parties are organized under police protocol while gambling dens are operating under police patronage. But only the poor and penniless are ‘brought to justice’ in case they commit any social crime. Punjab police are a unique force that accepts bribe for torturing and not torturing an accused in custody. Simultaneously, the police provide protocol to the powerful and humiliate the powerless during interrogation.

Last week, Lahore police arrested five dacoits who had committed armed robbery at the Garden Town residence of Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed, the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) of the Punjab police. In 2013, it had been reported that the bandits stanched away cash and gold ornaments worth Rs1.5 million from the house of ex-police chief. The police recovered the looted valuables from the gangsters and returned the money to their former boss with interest.

According to the annual police report 2013, at least 18289 cases of armed robberies and 2,768 cases of dacoities were reported in the province from January to December. Police record says that more than 6000 cases of armed robberies in which the poor were looted are declared untraceable.

In their campaign manifesto, the ruling elite had pledged police reforms. The same political leadership failed to reform the Thana culture during their previous five-year tenure. Under the present circumstances, the claim of change in police culture seems absurd. Had inspector general of police (IGP) Khan Baig been sacked by the CM to subside public anger, it would have made more headlines in the national media. Removing the ineligible and corrupt officers will not help overcome the governance crisis unless the whole corrupt system is put on the right track. But who bell the cat is a million-dollar question.