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Salahuddin Custodial Death: Police’s Lawyers Holding Strikes To Delay Hearings

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The president of the Rahim Yar Khan Bar Association, who is among the lawyers of the police officials arrested for the alleged torture and murder of mentally challenged man Salahuddin Ayubi, announced a strike on Wednesday against “corruption in judiciary”.

The temporary bail of the suspects has been extended. Recent hearings have been delayed due to strikes by lawyers of the Rahim Yar Khan Bar Association. This is the third hearing that has been delayed. The next hearing has been set for 9th October.

Salahuddin’s father had earlier stated that the lawyers are using delaying tactics in the case to escape the legal process.

Advocate Usama Khawar, who is representing Salahuddin in the case, said that currently they are waiting for the results of the second post-mortem of Salahuddin, as the first post-mortem report had not given a clear indication of the injuries that resulted in his death. He added that critical injuries, which were the cause of Salahuddin’s death, were suppressed in the report.

He added that following the case, the provincial law minister and chief minister had promised a judicial commission to inquire about the incident and give its recommendations about the case.

He added that the government was dragging its feet and no commission had been formed till now and the police officials responsible for Salahuddin’s death are currently free. He added that suspects roaming free could also tamper with the evidence.

Among the demands of the family, one is that the police officials should be tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Moreover, the promised judicial commission should be formed, and that work on an anti-torture bill should be expedited.

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An earlier hearing regarding Salahuddin’s case was delayed due to a strike by Rahim Yar Khan Bar Association lawyers. Salahuddin’s father had claimed in a video that the defense lawyers were using delaying tactics using the pretext of the lawyers’ strike.

The recent hearing on 2nd October was also delayed due to a strike by the Rahim Yar Khan Bar Association.

It is important to note that the president of the Rahim Yar Khan Bar Association, Hassan Mustafa, is among those representing the police officials allegedly involved in the murder of Salahuddin. The defense lawyers have taken pre-arrest bails for their clients, and it appears that they are using strikes to have hearings delayed.

Salahuddin Ayubi was arrested from Rahim Yar Khan in early September after a video showing him breaking into an ATM machine went viral. It was later reported that he had died in police custody, with footage from Sheikh Zayed Medical College Hospital showing that he was brought to the hospital dead. The police had claimed that the Salahuddin died due to a heart attack. A murder case had been registered against three police officers on the complaint of the father of the victim.

Punjab Police had been severely criticised following the incident. Just days before Salahuddin’s death, a torture cell in Gujjarpura area of Lahore had been unearthed. Even the Punjab inspector general of police had been ordered to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights.

Many people had argued that the incident threw doubts on the ruling party’s sincerity towards police reforms. Following the incidents, rights groups had protested in favour of police reforms and for responsible police officials to be punished.

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