Suspected custodial death of minor roils Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

·3-min read

Peshawar, Mar 15 (PTI) A class VII student has died under mysterious circumstances in a police station in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, leading to vehement protests by the family of the minor, according to media reports on Monday.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has suspended the entire staff of Gharbi Police Station and ordered a judicial probe into the minor's death, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The minor, Shahzaib, was arrested on Sunday after he had a heated argument with shopkeepers at Liaquat Bazaar here. According to The News, Shahzaib had pointed a gun at the shop owners. An FIR was registered under section 15 of the Arms Act and Shahzaib was arrested.

Hours later when Shahzaib's father, Khyal Mohammad, reached West Cantonment Police Station, he was told that his son had committed suicide.

Advisor to the Chief Minister, Information, Kamran Bangash said if the inquiry finds the police officials as guilty, exemplary punishment awaits them, the reports said.

The chief minister has directed Inspector General of Police Sanaullah Abbasi to visit the police post and keep him updated.

While the entire staff of the West Cantonment Police Station has been suspended, officials dealing with Shahzaib's case have been arrested and cases filed against them, Geo News reported.

Chief Minister Khan and Governor Shah Farman said if the boy did commit suicide, then what prompted him to do so must be found out.

The chief minister said all available CCTV footage from the case must be handed over to the judicial commission.

Speaking at a press conference, SSP, Operations, Yasir Afridi indicated that lack of CCTV footage from the case could handicap the investigation, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.

Afridi said the poor arrangement of CCTV cameras was 'negligence and action has been taken against the policemen'.

In a video recorded outside the Gharbi police station, Khyal Mohammad said his son died because of police torture.

“When I reached the police station the police didn’t tell me anything for three hours about my son’s condition,” he said, adding that the police later told him his son had hanged himself.

A huge number of protesters -- including relatives of the deceased -- demonstrated outside the Gharbi police station. Traffic was brought to a standstill on the busy Sunehri Masjid Main Road.

The protests abated after the Station House Officer was arrested and the rest of the officials were suspended. Shahzaib's funeral service was held on Monday in Peshawar.

Shahzaib's death was one of the top trends on Twitter. Netizens questioned how a teenager could hang himself when senior officers were on duty.

Some social media users said the police stations, offices of SHOs, and lock-ups are supposed to be under CCTV surveillance and that such a massive blind spot indicates malicious intent.

Shahzaib's death comes just a week after a University of Peshawar student was killed in a police shooting incident. Mubashir had allegedly not heeded a traffic constable's signal to stop driving. Two police officials involved in the incident have been arrested. PTI IND AKJ IND