By Our Correspondent
Human rights activists in Shangla have strongly condemned an illegal act of the local police for frequently uploading suspects’ photos on social media, especially those suspects who have been arrested in minor issues.
According to details, police in Shangla, and in other districts has been uploading these pictures on the Facebook page of the District Police Officer (DPO) violating basic human rights’. Photos of the suspects who have been arrested are uploaded – including those who have not been convicted by court.
Ejaz Shah, a 2nd year student of Kund, district Battagram who was working for a company as a part time worker, was arrested for taking Rs200 extra from Ehsaas Program beneficiaries which did not cover transport. But after he was taken in police custody, his photo was taken by the police with a placard in his hands and uploaded it on Facebook, after which it went viral.
The whole incident left Ejaz Shah so ashamed and depressed that he confessed he had been thinking of committing suicide, despite the fact that the court acquitted him after charging him a fine of Rs5000.
“Since my bail I cannot go to any public place because people look at me and recognize me,” he says.
Ahsan ur Rehman, resident of Chichlo, said that the tehsil municipal administration (TMA) had installed a water tank for hand washing in front of his shop which was stolen by some unknown people, but the police arrested him and took his photo and made it viral from the DPO Shangla official page, ruining his respect and dignity within the Bisham market.
In another case, Zahid Hussain a resident of Dehrai was charged in an explosives’ case. His photo too was uploaded on the official page of DPO Shangla and was posted as a huge exporter of explosives despite the fact that he had a legal license and was engaged in mining contracts.
He said that he would go court against the police for defamation and affecting his dignity and honour.
A senior lawyer, Ali Bahadar Khan, said this trend was really shameful and unlawful – dishonoring respectable people through Facebook – or ruining the privacy of those who had not committed such big crimes.
He said that departmental action against police could be conducted for such actions, and a damages suit could be filed in court.
“This is a violation of the person’s fundamental rights even if he is under arrest, for example if anyone has a pistol and has a license and the police arrests him and insults him publicly and sends him to jail, action can be taken against the police.”
Senior advocate, Sultan-i-Room, told Voicepk.net that a well established principal of criminal law was that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, therefore, publication of picture of any one without his consent was illegal, as it was violation of human rights and invasion on his/her privacy.
The lawyer said that if an act is done with malafide intention to defame anyone the aggrieved person can take both civil and criminal actions against the one who defamed him.
Advocate Room said that a suit for defamation and damages would lie in the civil court, while in the criminal law under sections 499, 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) action may be taken against the wrongdoer.
The defamation has been defined under Section 499 PPC and under Section 500 PPC: whoever will defame anyone will be punished with simple imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine or both, also departmental action against police under Police Rules 1934 and the Police Act 2017.
Imran Noshad, a human rights activist in Bunir, said police should be sensitized in this regard because in districts of KP there was a tribal society and people knew each others well, especially through reputation. “When the police shares such pictures in public, especially in pity charges’ cases, then it becomes difficult for that person to live normally in that same way amont the same people,” he says.
“It is even possible that the person may try to take his own life and commit suicide due to defamation in the society,” he added. “Especially in Blasphemy cases when the police posts photos of the suspects and even after he or she is acquitted in public, certain sections of our society will lynch them in broad daylight.
Faisal Jehan, another a social activist in Shangla, said, “We all knew that the Constitution is the highest law of the state and no one is above the law, but police has been misusing its power for personal interest and their own popularity among the public. They think the way to do this is to post pictures of the arrested people online.”
He adds, “It does not only defame a person but lends a kind of uncertainty in society, therefore, strict action must be taken under the Constitution of Pakistan.”
The same practice was also witnessed in Mardan, Bunir and other districts of KP, however, in some districts police covered the suspects’ faces while sharing photos but still publicized their identities.