LAHORE/Islamabad - Pakistan cricket star Umar Akmal was released on bail Sunday, a day after his arrest for violating traffic rules and scuffling with a policeman. The 23-year-old was charged with interfering with government work and "scuffling" with the policeman after he failed to stop at a traffic signal and refused to show documents on Saturday.
Traffic policeman M Zeeshan accused Umar of tearing his uniform and assaulting him, charges the batsman denied. Umar's lawyer said the court allowed bail against furnishing bond worth Rs 100,000. "Umar's bail has been confirmed," lawyer Wasim Mumtaz told reporters outside the court. "We will register our protest as Umar was kept under unlawful detention."
A visibly upset Umar later told reporters he had tried his best to comply with the law. "It was a case of police showing their strength and I tried my level best to resolve the matter," said Umar, who regularly plays limited-overs cricket for Pakistan. Akmal's father criticised the arrest. "When our own people insult our national heroes then the rest of the world will also do this," said Mohammad Akmal. "It's insulting and unacceptable."
Umar has played 16 Tests, 89 one-day internationals and 52 Twenty20s for Pakistan in a career that began in 2009. He is regarded as one of Pakistan's most talented batsman, but has failed to live up to his potential because of his rashness in batting, which led to him being dropped from the Test side in 2011.
Meanwhile, Umar appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also the Patron of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif to provide him justice as he had to go through mental and physical torture at the hands of Punjab police.
Umar while talking exclusively to The Nation on Sunday said: “I had done nothing wrong. The traffic warden without any reason just started to push me and also beat me. I have served national team and belong to a very respectable family. My two other brothers are also serving the country. The way I was given a rough treatment is by no means lend to a national hero.”
Umar maintained his innocence and said he had stated previously to check the cameras installed in the market. “If I had committed any mistake I will not only apologise but also ready to bear the brunt. The warden and police created the whole saga for the sake of cheap publicity.”
He said he went to police station to lodge complaint against the maltreatment of traffic warden. “If I had done anything wrong, I could stay away or hide myself. The police didn't handle the matter accordingly. Captain Sohail and ASP Zahid Nawaz mishandled the entire issue. They could have resolved the issue amicably. I had not committed any serious crime even then I was locked up with other criminals of heinous nature. After using all delaying tactics finally they let me go home on the personal guarantee of SP Gulberg.”
He said he had managed to take bail from Duty Magistrate Shaukat. “I was deeply shocked with the developments through which I and especially my family had gone through. I want justice from PM and CM and my only demand is a strict action against the person involved as no one in future could dare to repeat such with others.”
While sharing his views Pakistan's most capped wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, elder brother of Umar, said: “I was playing the final of One-Day Cup. When I heard the news of the incident, I immediately rushed to the police station. But to my utter disappointment, the police don't allow me or my family members to meet Umar. The situation was worse as our lawyer was not even allowed to meet Umar. We are not terrorists; we respect law; we are the ambassadors of the country and taken Pakistan flag high in the number of countries, the way police handled the entire saga is unbelievable, Umar was kept in the lock up with other criminals. Such a treatment to a national hero shows how ordinary people had to suffer at the hands of the police. We know the rule of law and always abide by the rules of the land. But others must also realize that we have given everything to the country and we are very proud to represent Pakistan in international cricket. The police could have easily resolved the issue and there was no need of wasting time. They used every dirty trick in their book to waste time and we could not get bail for Umar. I am very thankful to SP Gulberg and especially Pakistan Cricket Board, who remained in constant contact and sent advisor and security manager Col Waseem to police station. PCB COO Subhan Ahmed called me and offered all out help. They stood by our side in the time of need and helped in best possible way.”
It is pertinent to mention here sportsman are assets to the nation they deserve better treatment. If they commit any mistake, they should be given due respect until and unless they are not proven guilty. The police are well known to create unwanted and uncalled for scenes and the situation demands an immediate action from Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, who is the custodian of the province. His timely action would serve both purposes. The national hero would be satisfied and the person who was at fault would never dare to repeat such thing in future.