Why Arsalan was arrested

Published: February 18, 2012
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A 13-year-old boy was arrested, an FIR was filed against him and he now has a criminal record. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

The Pakistani media is playing a proactive role in bringing forth cases of victims who have been dealt with unjustly or ignored due their poverty or social status.

I have seen various cases being brought forth by broadcast media, which highlight the plight of poor people who are suffering from health ailments that can easily be cured if they had the resources. By putting the spotlight on such issues, they have helped these individuals by giving them exposure, sometimes the needed funds and also government intervention. In other cases, they have highlighted the stark contrast in how justice is delivered to opposite ends of the rich/poor spectrum.

One such episode which would have left many alarmed would be the one I saw recently on Dawn News, an episode of ‘News Night with Talat Hussain.’ This particular episode showed two very different sides of justice; one was the prime minister’s indictment for contempt by the Supreme Court. At the other end of the spectrum, there was Arsalan Latif, a young boy from Gujranwala who was caught by the police for flying a kite.

Gilani has the resources to hire the best lawyers and even if the court does find him guilty, he can still walk away using the ‘presidential pardon’ clause granted by the Pakistani constitution.

Arsalan’s story, however, is quite the opposite.

The boy was innocently playing one day, chasing after a kite which had been cut from its string. He caught the kite and after that, to bear the fruit of his labour, decided to play with the dor (string). The police arrived at the scene and caught him, making him spend one night in jail.

Despite the fact that the kite flying ban is in place, this story is shocking. A 13-year-old boy was arrested, an FIR was filed against him and he now has a criminal record.

When Arsalan saw the police, he was so terrified that he ran and hid in his bathroom. Since his parents were not at home, the police took him out, beat him up, handcuffed him and took him to the police station amidst the howls and sobs of his younger sister and brothers.

Their whole family was traumatised. Arsalan had an exam the following day, which the police agreed to let him sit, but nonetheless, he spent the night in custody. Despite their poverty, his age and the petty crime, his family had to bail him out. Unlike the PM, these people did not have money to hire a lawyer.

Being sent to prison brought shame upon the family in their neighbourhood, and traumatised the younger children. When Talat asked Arsalan’s nine-year-old brother about the incident, he started crying uncontrollably. Arsalan himself could not help crying and said he would never fly a kite again. He recalled how he was beaten up at the police station and how he spent the whole night crying.

I was outraged at the trauma and stress this situation brought to this young boy’s life. How could the police take such an irresponsible stance?

I am sure there are many children like Arsalan. It is time our society stood up against the abuse of power and the ‘dark’ side of justice that remains ignored.

I am grateful to and encourage our media for bringing forth such incidents so we can live in a more transparent society.

Amna Khalid

Amna Khalid

An economics major from LUMS, with a MSc in financial economics from Cardiff University. Khalid currently works in London. She blogs at surreallist.blogspot.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • moiz

    Where did this happen?Recommend

  • Usman Qureshi

    Yea I saw that clip.. shows how so-called justice happens in Pakland!Recommend

  • khizer Jalal

    why is that Anchor trying to be his DAD!!Recommend

  • Abhi

    don’t you agree flying kite is a sin and you should thank police from saving this young boy from committing a sin. He will thank police on the judgement day.Recommend

  • True Paki

    The nation that have different justice standards, over powered by other nations.Recommend

  • Irshad Khan

    If Arsalan was the son of a dignatory, a sardar, a Jagirdar, a wadera, a peer, a Mushaiq, a Mullah, a Patwari, a Tehsildar or a Police officer then the situation would have been different and he would have been provided a dozen of kites and all assecories and requirements of kite flying. This is the fault of Arsalan, to be a son of a poor person and not for whom the Pakistan was made. Recommend

  • Freeman

    When illeterate people in police will be recruited then this has to be happen.

    We need to change completely also de-politicize it to work police freely for the peopel of Pkaistan instead of Politicians. Recruitment must be on merit also educated people should come in police.Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos

    There was no need to put the young boy in jail. They could have reprimanded him instead.Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    Why is this an issue?

    If the police are at all doing their duty.

    Kite flying is potential murder. Its not something to be taken lightly. It is not very different from firing in the air.

    The ghayrat brigade will agree.Recommend

  • Mehmood Arif

    This story show us a worse face of our society. All child protection NGO’S should must stand on this act of Police. So, InshAllah one day we shall put off these darkness from our society. Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    The criminals and terrorists have supporters walking the corridors of Power, Police are therefore unable to maintain law and order. Their frustration at this abuse can manifest itself in unpredictable ways against the powerless. Arsalan being at the wrong place at the wrong time became an unintended victim.Recommend

  • kamran khan.

    Punjab is police stateRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    A rant on the kite-ban itself would’ve been very much appropriate here. I see the author tried to steer clear of that and concentrate on police brutality.Recommend

  • Aamna Hassan

    OMG, I myself nearly cried reading it. From these fake standards of justice Barbarism couldnt have been more distinctively defined!Recommend

  • Sajid

    You have basically translated the clip into English. After watching the clip this article is useless. Recommend

  • Parvez

    All the cops involved should be punished because this is disgraceful.
    Who will punish them ? The person with the power to punish them, will not as he needs them more than they need him. The present system has failed so until another system comes along the poor, the innocent and the weak will suffer.Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    @Abhi:
    No one is talking about sins, we are talking about the law and its implementation. Stop trying to twist the argument.Recommend

  • peterparkerarcher

    Absolutely disgusting and shamefulRecommend

  • MAS

    keeping small arms is Yes, incitig sectarian hatred is OK, Flying kite is a NO NO. Judicial activism is selective, NGos or lawyers only take cases where they get publicity. Killjoys, what a country – land of pure nonsense.Recommend

  • ijazmir

    Punjab police is the best, Never inforce law only collect funds for police welfare. Kite flying is against law than people should be educated about the law. Kite flying is cultural kids fly Kites all over the world. Pakistani kids are not unique. Media and police both are responsible.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Are you angry at the absurd ban on Kite Flying or the fact that they chose to implement the law on a minor?Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    @Anoop:
    I don’t think most people here like the kite ban. I know I don’t. But most of the anger is that it was used in the case of a minor.Recommend

  • soomro19

    Its unfortunate that people are not understanding the article. It’s not about the kite ban or the police brutality. The PM goes to the Supreme Court waving his hands as if we has just won a battle and then having to decency or respect boasts how he has defied the court. But this poor boy whose crime was flying a kite doesn’t have that facility. He spends the night in jail, then beaten by the police and this will affect him for a long time.. That’s what the article is about..
    ‘ALL MEN ARE BORN EQUAL BUT SOME MEN ARE MORE EQUAL’ Recommend

  • Hira Z

    I feel like the story is inspired by ‘Little Terrorist’ , Ashvin Kumar Film. Recommend

  • Awais

    @Abhi:
    What? I hope your being sarcastic…..Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Awais: On your comment by Abhi : I doubt it…… and that is worrying. Recommend

  • Haris Javed

    oO this is really woeful.. .he is a MINOR, how come they even arrest him??? =(
    does this so-called police has the guts to put handcuffs to those ADULTS from HIGH CLASS SOCIETY who are openly violating this????
    this is really saddening.. . terrible! [email protected]Recommend

  • K

    @ Salman Arshad ….

    Potential murder???? what about all the real murders that happen and the real murderers roaming free??? you just need to not presussrize your pea size brain. stupid fool.

    this was just truamatizing for the kids and for the entire family. I can’t hope for justice for this family or any ordinary family in the Land of Pure. But I do hope that these kids grow up to be responsible citizens.Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @K:
    I’m not sure if you belong to the ghairat brigade, but where did I say that murderers should not be punished?
    A criminal is a criminal and must be handled according to the extent and severity of the crime.

    And kite flying is potential murder. Not a small crime. The child and his family should not be let go. The kid could have murdered someone innocent.

    Not agreeing with me would constitute contempt of the (Lahore High) Court. Recommend

  • http://bigsaf.newsvine.com bigsaf

    The Zulm Republic of Pakistan.

    Unfortunately, the truth is police brutality and major inhumane and un-Islamic ethical violations are justified in Pakistan, sometimes in a twisted guise of superior national interest, morality or religious goal, especially against the weak and the poor.

    Pakistan is traumatized by a twisted ignorant culture of might is right violence and injustice compounded by the representing ignorant and apathetic state which undermines basic rights and laws by their inaction, and if action is taken, it’ll be extreme and unjust compounding the initial crime worsening the future consequences. Recommend

  • http://truthexposed123.blogspot.com Truth Exposed

    Chief Justice zindabadRecommend