Police violence

These incidents have raised mistrust between the citizens and the police

In yet another incident of police violence in Karachi, a newly-married young man, Hashim Sikander, was gunned down and his friend riding with him was injured by personnel of the Anti-Vehicle Lifting Cell (AVLC) for not stopping their motorcycle in Manghopir neighbourhood. A similar incident occurred in March when a policeman fired at an unarmed boy near Rizvia Society. Over the years, police in Karachi have gained notoriety for killing innocent citizens leaving many families aggrieved and awaiting justice.

These incidents have raised mistrust between the citizens and the police. On the one hand, police have failed to curb rising street crimes in the city and catch culprits even when they have ample evidence. And on the other hand, they open fire at innocent citizens for failing to comply with them at picket lines. Other times, they resort to verbal and physical abuse and confiscate people’s belongings. The excessive use of force against citizens signals a structural problem in the police force. Even when policemen find individuals suspicious, their first response should not be to fire at them, especially in public spaces. They should follow the due procedure including noting the vehicles’ numbers and bringing suspects in for an inquiry. Inadequate laws, a lack of accountability and impunity for killings have allowed police brutality to continue unabated.

Perhaps, Sindh Police need to work on dismantling the warrior mindset and instead train personnel to be tactically safe without approaching every citizen as a potential enemy combatant. The top authorities have ordered an inquiry to ascertain the circumstances of the recent incident. The accused personnel must be brought to justice to remind all police officials that they are not above the law and will be faced with consequences for their brash actions. Karachi police need to do better for the citizens, otherwise, distrust will continue to grow intensifying lawlessness in the city.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2023.

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