LAHORE - Local residents on Monday allegedly unearthed a private torture cell being run by Lahore police in Gujjarpura.

At least five suspects were found chained inside the building surrounded by thick forest and bushes. A few policemen deployed at the illegal torture centre disappeared as locals along with media crew raided the house to expose the “Thana Culture” in the provincial metropolis.

In Lahore, police are running hundreds of torture cells where crime suspects are kept in the name of so-called interrogation. The latest discovery of illegal detention centres in the metropolis has smashed to the ground the tall claims of change in Thana Culture.

Recently, Punjab Police Inspector General Arif Nawaz Khan paid surprise visits to different police stations in Lahore and Sheikhupura districts and announced that complaints of torture and illegal detention against police would not be tolerated. Despite IGP’s clear directions, crime suspects are routinely tortured and detained at private places in Lahore.

City has 100 police detention centres

Inside the torture centre, the crime suspects were seen chained together on a charpoy. One of the suspects was tortured to badly that he was unable to move. “They subject us to severe torture on each night. We are here for the three days. They are merciless,” a victim said while referring to local policemen.

Another said that the police tortured him in front of his children before shifting him to this detention center. “We did not do anything wrong. The police wanted to extort cash from my family. They beat us only to get money,” the suspect said and burst into tears.

As local media exposed the unlawful detention center in the city, top police officers immediately ordered an inquiry to probe into the allegations. IGP Arif Nawaz also took notice of the illegal detention center and sought a report from the Lahore capital city police officer.

A police spokesman claimed that four police officials including a station house officer were suspended from service and the police department has initiated a formal inquiry to investigation the incident.

“Gujjarpura SHO Inspector Raza Jaffri, Head Constable Muhammad Imran, Shehzad, and Constable Zubair are closed to the Police Lines,” the spokesman said. Lahore DIG (operations) Ashfaq Khan has ordered SP Civil Lines to probe the matter and send him a detailed report. 

According to investigations conducted by The Nation, more than 100 private torture cells are operating under the nose of top cops in the Punjab Capital, where the police detain accused illegally on the pretext of interrogation for many days to avoid legal complications.

Police sources revealed that the Operations, Investigations and CIA wings of the City police have set up more than one hundred private torture cells in the jurisdiction of 77 police stations in the provincial metropolis to interrogate robbers, car-lifters, and other gangsters by applying traditional methods of torture without any fear and hesitation.

These private torture cells also help police escape the raids of court bailiffs in cases of illegal custody. The recent disclosure of private torture cell established in connivance with the senior police officers are more than an eye-opener for those sitting at the helm of affairs in the Punjab hierarchy.

Lawyers and right activists say the setting up of private torture cells by police is a heinous crime and law does not sanction running of such cells at private places for so-called interrogations. On the other hand, a retired police officer said that a good number of private torture cells are operating in the city and this is like an open secret.

“No policeman can set up private torture cell before getting “go ahead” from the senior officers. But whenever any private torture cell came to surface, the top cops punish the lower sub-ordinates to save their own skins,” he said.

The police official establish these torture cells at private places including guesthouses, Deras of local influential people and sometime at rented apartments, where they carry out activities whatever they want.