Osama Nadeem Satti, a 22-year-old resident of Islamabad, was shot dead by police on Saturday, triggering widespread outrage in the country over alleged police brutality.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports that Satti had gone out to drop a friend at the National University of Science and Technology around 2am local time. His father, Nadeem Yunis Satti, said that five policemen had followed his son before shooting him 17 times.
The father said his son was taken to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences where he was found dead, with one bullet in his head, one in his chest and the rest all over his body. He further claimed that the policemen had shot dead his son “brutally” over a verbal exchange a day earlier.
“My son lost his life due to an ordinary exchange of terse words,” Satti said in his police complaint, adding that his son had told him about the altercation after it had happened.
A case of ‘misunderstanding’
Islamabad police deny these allegations, saying the incident was a case of “misunderstanding.”
Khalid Awan, a local police official, said they had received reports of a fleeing car after a robbery. “Coincidentally, Osama’s car was also in the vicinity,” he said, adding that the vehicle seemed suspicious to the anti-terror squad, which at first ordered the vehicle to stop but opened fire once it didn’t stop.
“After Islamabad police chief took notice and other senior officials reached the scene, they determined the deceased was innocent and started proceedings following which the squad personnel were taken into custody,” he added.
In a statement on Twitter, Islamabad Police said that they have taken notice of the incident and formed an investigation committee to probe further. “The officials involved in the incident have been arrested. Action will be taken according to law,” it said.
Widespread outrage over killing
Social media users expressed their outrage over the incident, demanding the resignation of Sheikh Rasheed, the country’s interior minister.
Many dubbed it a case of “police brutality,” saying the country’s law enforcement agencies often kill people with impunity.
In January 2019, police officials killed several members of the same family in Punjab’s Sahiwal town on terrorism suspicion. Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the killings and promised to initiate police reforms to avoid torture and extrajudicial killings.
Rights activists say that Pakistan lacks comprehensive legislation to prevent and criminalize police torture. Although the Police Order 2002 prohibits torture and imposes a penalty on police officials committing torture, most police officials consider themselves above the law, says Haroon Janjua, DW correspondent in Islamabad.
“Governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law,” Reema Omer, a legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists, wrote on Twitter, responding to Satti’s killing.