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20 February 2019

On a raid

Zaighum Abbas
The writer studies Political Science in Government College University, Lahore. He tweets @zagumkhan

 I was deep sunk in Nietzsche’s “beyond good and evil” a night, a few days ago; suddenly I heard the sound of heavy boots clambering upon the downstairs of my flat. I could also hear the voices chanting very loudly and whamming of the doors for some unknown reasons. Curiously, I arose from the bed to inquire into the situation and just as when I reached the door of my room; two unidentified policemen kicked the main door of my flat and entered into the veranda in a very hasty manner. They asked me to step aside and remain quiet. In a situation of utter confusion and dizziness and looking at the demeanor of the two bulky cops of Punjab police, I thought it sane to remain quiet and did not dare questioning at such blatant entry into residence. Conversing with each other in typical Punjabi the two policemen searched every corner of my flat and obviously found nothing of their interest. I, for a while thought that neither I am marijuana or opium-addict nor I have any distant linkages with TTP or any other offshoot of the terrorist organization then what is the reason of my being in such unprecedented situation. The only reason which I could remember or could hold responsible for the entry of policemen to my flat was the bomb blast that happened in Anarkali Food Street some couple of weeks ago. And since the death of TTP’S leader Hakeem Ullah Mehsud in a drone attack the newly appointed chief, pledged to take revenge from the government for what he termed as “betrayal” in the name of negotiations. I read that news last night before this incident happened to me and Anarkali food street was mentioned on top hit list. Further the Muharram processions were going-on around, I could discern the obvious inklings of tight security and men of intelligence agencies during day time around the bustling bazaar of Anarkali.

 

I now realized the gravity of situation and by now the policemen were finished with their checking. They asked me to show some ID and inquired from me some basic questions. What do I do, from where I am etc etc. A third cop then entered into my residence. He was an ASI (Assistant Sub Inspector) and took all my i.d cards including CNIC and university ID card. I could see from the door that my neighbor was being treated very harshly by other policemen because he took some time to open the door; probably he was sleeping at that time. He got some pushes and slaps from the men in uniform and was searched very seriously. I could also judge the voices coming from downstairs where other students were also facing the similar situation. The policemen then ordered me lock the flat and go with them. I was shocked but could not resist to their orders. There were eight students in whole apartment and we were then carried and put in a police mobile with its siren wailing loudly in midnight. I could not utter a single word from the mouth during all this, nor could I question from them for what reason we are being treated as no less than terrorists. We were carried to the nearest police station in Anarkali for interrogation whose dilapidated building probably was built in colonial days. I could see some other people brought in for interrogation who were daily wage labors in Anarkali bazaar. During all this I noted one thing that all the people brought-in were non-Punjabis either from Quetta or north side of the country. I also listened to the stereotypical jokes on “Khan Sahib” by the paindu policemen who were enjoying the spur of moment. Their attitude with us and their sense of duty gave me a lot of idea for why anyone who wants to rape the law in this country every time succeeds and finds a way to escape. It came as no surprise later for me because I was well aware of the Punjab police who have earned a good name and reputation because of their attitude with public. But the most painful thing I had to see in the police station was an eleven years old kid who was also brought-in. I went near him to inquire for why he was here. He answered in a pungent tone that he used to work in a tea stall and hails from Peshawar. He did not even know for what reason he was brought in. Among us were so many people who also had no idea that for what actual reasons they are brought-in and what would happen to them in next moment. I also found a friend of mine who was there with his two relatives who came as guests to stay with him for some days. They were also surprised to see such treatment extended to them and since they belonged to Pashtoon ethnicity, they did not expect such an attitude being as the guests in Punjab.

We were kept in that room for almost 2 hours until the Station Head Officer came and ordered for the complete data entry of every person. By 2’ o clock at night we were allowed to leave the police station after all the formalities. All this was done to pretend to the media that there are tight security measures taken to ensure the safety of people but it was a hoax, a planned act which did not meet the objectives intended and it happens every now and then in this country; those who want to sabotage peace succeed every time in doing so and those who are not guilty and who are innocent are left to face the matters of court and katchery. The police system is in shambles, there is no systematic training for the lower ranks who did not even know how to behave with the public. The higher ranks enjoy heavy perks and privileges but do nothing for the salvation of system.

 Drowsy as I was, I came to the flat, thrown myself in bed and slept.