A Christian government officer was brutally tortured in his office by a group of lawyers in Toba Tek Singh district on Saturday but police have failed to arrest the influential accused, sources said.
As per details, Pir Mahal Assistant Commissioner Irfan Martin was at his office when a group of 10-15 lawyers led by Advocate Imtilal Chaudhry entered the room and locked the door from inside. The assailants then lunged at the officer, tore his clothes, and started beating him with batons and rods. They also attacked his police gunman Javed Niaz and a civil defence staffer Jawad when they tried to save Martin.
“The attackers had been pressurising me to accept their illegal demands and when I refused to do so they tortured me and also attempted to kidnap me. After attacking me, they took with them some important files and government records from my office,” Martin stated in the FIR [First Information Report] registered with the Pir Mahal police.
Two days have passed since the attack on the Christian officer but no accused has yet been arrested, sources said.
According to Martin, the police were dragging their feet in taking action against the accused lawyers and appealed to the Punjab chief minister and provincial government to take notice of the incident.
“I don’t want to give this attack a religious colour but the police’s inaction is disappointing. I want the government to do justice with me,” he was quoted as saying.
The incident has been widely condemned by Christians across Pakistan with some accusing the police of siding with the assailants because the victim officer belongs to a minority community.
In a Facebook post, Minorities Alliance Pakistan Chairman Akmal Bhatti condemned the attack and demanded stern punishment for the accused lawyers.
Roheel Zafar Shahi, secretary general of the Pakistan Minority Rights Commission, also condemned the incident and demanded justice for the officer.
Human rights activist Shireen Aslam said the attack on Irfan Martin showed that minority communities would always remain weak and vulnerable even if they are able to get senior positions [in government].
Lawyers’ hooliganism, particularly in Punjab province, is not a new phenomenon. But it has been getting worse.
Senior lawyers and analysts say all such incidents are the aftershocks of the lawyers’ movement of 2007. According to them, former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry appointed active leaders of the lawyers’ movement as judges after his reinstatement to the Supreme Court.
During the same period, judicial activism was promoted. A huge number of suo motu notices were taken; harsh comments were passed just to humiliate the administration and bureaucrats and certain people were targeted to settle personal scores. After reinstatement, Iftikhar Chaudhry politicised the whole judiciary for his personal and self-serving motives.
In 2019, three patients died when hundreds of lawyers attacked a hospital in Lahore during a dispute with doctors.
Videos showed the lawyers ransacking wards at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, beating up staff, and smashing equipment. As panic spread, doctors and paramedics hid, leaving patients unattended, including those in a critical state. At least 250 lawyers were booked on a range of charges, including terrorism and murder, but the cases were discharged after some time.