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Punjab police decry ‘fake propaganda’ after video of cops being assaulted in Bahawalnagar goes viral

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The Punjab Police on Wednesday decried “fake propaganda” after a string of videos showing Pakistan Army officers allegedly assaulting and beating up cops in Bahawalnagar went viral on social media.

“This matter in Bahawalnagar, which went viral on social media, has been taken out of context and exaggerated,” the police said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

A day earlier, several videos, showing men in army uniforms allegedly beating up police officials in Bahawalnagar, went viral on social media. One video showed a man sitting on the ground with a bloody nose.

Another clip showed a man and two army personnel forcing policemen to kneel in a queue.The footage drew outrage from politicians. PTI leader Hammad Azhar said the Punjab police chief should have immediately resigned after the incident, claiming that the provincial government was treating the matter as “trivial”.

“When the unverified videos went viral, both institutions launched a joint investigation. Officers from both institutions reviewed the facts and peacefully resolved the matter,” it said.

“Punjab Police and the Pakistan Army are cooperating to eliminate terrorists, miscreants and criminals from the province. We request that social media users do not spread fake propaganda,” the statement concluded.

Another video posted on the Punjab Police’s X account showed police and military officials chanting ‘Long Live Pakistan Army’.

The police statement, however, did not give details on what transpired between the men in the video. 

It emerged that a first information report (FIR) was registered at Bahawalnagar’s Madrasa police station on April 10 on the complaint of Inspector Saifullah under Section 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 155C (penalty for certain types of misconduct by police officers) of the Police Order 2002.

Saifullah said he was appointed as the new Madrasa station house officer (SHO) and referred to an FIR registered on April 8 under which he said ex-SHO Rizwan Abbas, Assistant Sub-inspector (ASI) Mohammad Naeem and Constables Mohammad Iqbal and Ali Raza had arrested three individuals, who were named in the earlier FIR, without investigation and failed to produce the three before a local magistrate after the passage of 24 hours.

The new SHO said that despite being aware of the law, the four had misused their authority and were lacking in carrying out their duties, thus mishandling the case and exhibiting “high-handedness”.

The SHO said that officials were alerted about the illegal actions of the police officers and subsequently instructions were issued to carry out legal proceedings against the four.

The earlier FIR on April 8 was registered on the complaint of ASI Naeem under Sections 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 324 (attempted murder), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 379 (punishment for theft) and 506-b (criminal intimidation) of the PPC, as well as the Punjab Arms Amendment Ordinance and Punjab Arms Ordinance 1965.

Naeem said that he was out on patrol with other police officers when he came across two individuals who fled after spotting the police party. He said one person was arrested after being caught and a pistol was also seized from him.

He added that the individual could not produce a licence for the gun and divulged the name of the other person who had fled. Naeem said that upon attempting to arrest the other individual near his house, the suspect tried to oppose the police and called his relatives who opposed the arrest attempt and dragged a constable inside their home while beating him.

Naeem said he had attempted to negotiate the constable’s return but was refused, after which he called then-SHO Abbas and other police personnel to the scene. He added that the police officers again asked the group to return the constable upon which the former turned violent.

He said the group of around 20 people threatened to kill the police, opened firing and took another constable and SHO Abbas as hostages. Naeem said he requested additional police force and the three police hostages were finally retrieved. He added that the police personnel taken hostage were injured and their belongings were also snatched from them.

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