LAHORE - A man arrested by Okara police allegedly for raping his own daughter was found hanged in the police lock-up on Saturday morning. Police claimed he committed suicide.

The resident of Satgarah ended his life by hanging himself with the ceiling fan, barely hours after he was implicated by police in a fake FIR on the behest of some influential persons. The man was also humiliated and thrashed by policemen. Following his death, police removed the body to the morgue and disposed of the case.

The latest incident of police brutalities comes three days after Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif suspended the entire 36-member staff of Muzaffarabad police station over negligence that led to the alleged rape of two girls in Muzaffarabad area of Multan. The CM also fired the Multan city police officer, the divisional SP, and the sub-divisional DSP over “shameful performance.”

This was not for the first time that the chief minister suspended the entire staff of a police station. He routinely replaces local and senior police officers after any criminal negligence or wrongdoing. Shehbaz Sharif took similar action against police after 2012 stoning of Maryam Bibi in Khanewal, Lahore’s Joseph Colony arson attack in March 2013, and sectarian strife in Rawalpindi.

Ironically, most of the officers who were removed after the above-mentioned incidents are ‘serving’ on lucrative posts in the police department. In some cases, the police officers suspended on the orders of the chief minister were also restored on his orders later.

In 2015, the CM had suspended the district police officer of Nankana Sahib when a gang-rape victim succumbed to burn injuries at a hospital in Lahore. The resident of district Nankana Sahib had taken her own life after being 'humiliated' by policemen when she approached the police station to seek legal action against the rapists. While issuing orders for action against the delinquent police officials, the CM had stated that that self-immolation by the woman for not receiving justice was a highly tragic incident. He said the provision of justice was the responsibility of police and they would have to discharge it.

Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar also took suo moto notice of the Multan incident. Punjab’s inspector general police Arif Nawaz was ordered to submit a report in this regard.

Reports said that a panchayat was assembled on July 16 in Multan after a man named Umar Wawda raped a 12-year-old girl. Two days later, on the panchayat’s orders, the family of the rape victim arrived at Wawda’s residence, where the 16-year-old sister of the accused was raped by Ashfaq (brother of the girl raped earlier). As soon as the incident made headlines in the national media, police sprang into action and arrested 10 members of the panchayat.

Shehbaz Sharif also visited the Violence Against Women Centre in Multan where he met with the rape victim’s family and extended his sympathies. While talking to reporters, the chief minister criticised police and said that all the persons held responsible for the act would be dealt with an iron hand.

The latest victim of rape incident reported with the Khanewal police on Sunday has a similar story. She was also denied justice and discouraged by local police.

The officers of Police Service of Pakistan in routine appear before the Punjab chief minister for new postings as district or regional police officers. It is unclear yet whether they are called by the CM office or the police department sends their names to the chief minister’s secretariat. CM Shehbaz Sharif himself interviews police officers before “ordering” their postings on key slots in the province. Of course, he himself suspends the same officers when they put his government in trouble by doing ‘Police Gardi’ or any other wrongdoing.

The incidents of rape and gang-rape are on the rise in this province where rape victims are denied justice and often they have to face police brutalities in one way or the other. At least 1,374 rape cases were registered with the provincial police from January to June this year while in 2016 the police had reported 1,516 rape cases during the matching period. Similarly, some 89 cases of gang-rape are registered by police this year against 106 such cases reported during the first six months of 2016. At least, 13 gang rape cases are still under investigation.

Rulers have badly failed to overhaul policing in this province since they are part of the problem. There is not a single police station in the province where police are not bribed. Perhaps, the police are the only department in which the officials bribe their colleagues or seniors to skip duties and get other favours.

The police stations having highest crime rate are still considered as the “best police stations”. In such stations, the police collect huge monthly income from narcotics dealers and those running brothels or gambling dens. The postings and transfers are ordered on someone’s recommendations.

Believe it or not, one-third of the police were punished over corruption or ill-discipline in 2015. According to a report, many among those awarded major or minor punishments were Constables, Head Constables, and Assistant Sub Inspectors.

The punishments included dismissal from service, compulsory retirement, reduction in rank and pay scale, extra-drill quarter guard, censure, and fine. Cops were given punishments on different grounds ranging from corruption to misuse of power and death in custody to faulty investigations. The scale of punishments awarded to a large number of officers reflects the police department has been struggling to make the largest law enforcement agency a corruption-free and well-disciplined force.

Out of the total 180,000 strength of the Punjab police, more than 51,200 policemen were awarded punishments for corruption or violating discipline in 2015. Even the corruption-tainted officers are terminated from service but they manage to come back by using powerful connections since postings and transfers are never made on merit in the police department.