Bundled in to a room to be viciously stoned to bloody pulp is a horrifically shocking end to anyone’s life - and the fact that this happened, just a few days ago, to two on duty policemen as they followed up a lead, does not, in anyway and no matter anyone’s personal opinion of the ‘Boys in blue’, detract from the viciousness of the crime: A crime, reportedly perpetrated by approximately 20 rabid villagers with, it is claimed, revenge on their minds.
As the incident is currently under investigation it cannot be discussed here in full but, what can be said is that the murderous residents of Doray village in the Tarnol area of Islamabad are nothing more than an example of the dangerously sick, societal mentality that is becoming more and more apparent, country wide, as the years roll by and, this is another worrisome fact, the first reaction of some readers to this report will be – no doubt about it – to automatically presume the deceased police constables to have been guilty of some misdemeanor or other, is yet another symptom of this terrifying trend.
Blaming the police for societal depravation and increasing lawlessness is, let’s face it, to selectively and totally avoid the basic realities of life in that - whether or not individual policemen are open to corruption is not the point - it is the population at large and from all ethnic and social classes, be they living way above or way below the poverty line, that is the root cause of the rapidly escalating criminality which has become an accepted norm of ‘modern’, everyday life in this, the supposed ‘Land of the Pure’.
The police are not responsible for the thieving mindset of, for example, the butchers selling sub-standard meat and cheating on weight: Neither are they responsible for the avariciousness and outright greed of cab drivers plying their trade in dangerously deficient vehicles which should have – and would have in many countries of the world – been consigned to the scrap heap long since; they are not responsible for the teachers who do not turn up in government schools yet still claim full pay; they are not responsible for dishonest shopkeepers who fleece the public at any opportunity they can take or make and neither are the police accountable for the flagrant bribery and corruption that rules government departments, from top to bottom and which is, as practiced by the vast majority of elected representatives, right out there in the open for anyone, even if they own just half a brain or less, to see, and yet, society levels its collective finger directly at the police. I mean….come on people!
The police are, on the whole although, as with everything, there are exceptions, no angels but, which of you would dare to do their job?
A police constable, an ordinary ‘copper’ on the beat, earns a pay of somewhere between Rs 17,000 – Rs 21,000 per month unless, that is, he is lucky enough to be posted in Islamabad when he just might get Rs 35,000 and, to earn this he first of all dons the highly visible uniform that immediately identifies him as a potential target for anyone and everyone’s ire, communal distrust and, if he happens to be unlucky, for an assailants bullet or, as in the aforementioned incident, death by stones/bricks rained down on him/them by a demented mob and this, don’t forget, is all in the line of duty: This duty being to try to maintain some kind of law and order so that the general populace – this means ‘you’ - can live in a state of relative peace.
It is all too common for residents of Karachi for instance, to complain about the Punjabi policemen – and policewomen – in their midst and for Rawalpindi-ites to moan about the police landed on them from other areas of the country but nobody stops to give a thought for, this being part and parcel of their job, how difficult it must be for police personnel to be routinely posted way outside their home districts and, for the vast majority of them, to be so far away from their families that they are rarely able to enjoy – although ‘enjoy’ is perhaps the wrong word as police personnel are ostracized wherever they happen to be – the comparative luxury of an ordinary family life.
In a society that habitually views the police, be these cops on the beat, traffic cops, prison cops or otherwise and so on from the very lowest to the highest grade, as brutal and corrupt and which subjects those so employed to daily doses of disabuse and disdain, it is hardly surprising that police personnel don, on top of their highly visible uniforms, an invisible, self-protective armour of wary suspicion of anyone who happens to attract, or demand, their attention but given the lives they lead who can, in all honesty, blame them.
To call a spade a spade: The police force is simply a mirror image of a sickeningly corrupt and brutalized society yet, as the shocking death by stoning of these two policemen so clearly illustrates, they are human too and, unless proven otherwise, should be treated as such.
The writer has authored a book titled The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War and lives in Bhurban.