Police Using Shock Device to Punish Violators of Coronavirus Preventive Measures in Pakistan

Police and the district administration in Faisalabad, the third biggest city in Pakistan with the highest incidence of coronavirus, are facing criticism for using gadgets that inflict a high-frequency shock to people for not wearing protective face masks or for violating other aspects of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that have been put in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Those who have been administered a ‘shock’ for violating COVID-19 SOPs include motorcyclists, auto rickshaw drivers and ordinary pedestrians.

Stun guns cause loss of balance and muscle control, mental confusion as well as disorientation, though only for a few seconds.

While speaking to Gulf News on Sunday, a number of aggrieved citizens complained against the torturous method adopted by the district administration to serve as a rather crude reminder for not wearing masks.

“They are not even sparing the minors or those who are travelling with their families or with children on motorbikes or auto rickshaws,” said Irshad, a resident of Ghulam Muhammadabaad.

‘I felt like I was dying’

“On Saturday, I was travelling along with my 15-year-old son on the motorbike to fetch medicines for my wife. It was an emergency and we forgot to wear masks. As we took a turn from our house, the police at the check post stopped us and asked why we were out without masks. Even before I could explain, one of them gave me an electric shock with the baton, causing immense pain. It was such a sudden shock and so painful that for a few seconds I felt like I was dying. They not only inflicted the shock on me, but also did the same to my son,” he complained.

According to Mushtaq, another resident, people without masks are lined up against the wall and subjected to electric shock. Deputy commissioner of police Muhammad Ali and special superintendant of police Ali Raza are supervising this operation against SOP violators, he added.

Tanveer Shaukat, the editor of local newspaper Daily Ghareeb, said a couple of stun guns were earlier being used by officials of the district administration at quarantine centres to prevent people from running away from the isolation facilities.

Effective tools

“They used these guns to threaten COVID-19 patients that they would have to suffer unbearable pain if they tried to leave the centre without permission. Unfortunately, some police officials took those guns from the quarantine centres to teach violators of SOPs a lesson,” Shaukat said.

An official of the district administration requesting not to be named said the stun devices were quite effective tools to “convince” the general public that only by wearing masks could they save themselves and their children from the virus. “Its intensity is only 5-6 watt, not a big deal,” he said when asked how they could justify subjecting ordinary people to shock-treatment as punishment. People will contract coronavirus if they don’t wear masks, he further said justifying the action.

Worldwide campaign

Reacting to reports of people being administered shocks, deputy commissioner Ali said an inquiry committee had been constituted with a civil defence officer as its chairman. “Based on the inquiry report, action will be taken,” he said.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International (AI) has condemned the use of stun guns against violators of SOPs. AI is campaigning worldwide for a ban on the use and trade of torture tools like stun batons, stun belts, spike batons, neck cuffs etc. It argues that no one should profit from pain and suffering of the people.

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