My salon was ransacked on the orders of the wife of a NAB officer
It all started on Tuesday April 5, 2016, around 1 pm, when a client at my salon started to create an issue about a chain – a chain which she had taken off in order to get her services done. She claimed it was valuable, which it must have been, considering she returned to my salon the next day to look for it.
At first, she kicked up a fuss over her calls not being answered at 11 pm the night before; please do keep in mind that our closing time is 9 pm. I politely told her that our phones, whether mobile or landlines, only operate during business hours, just like every other business in the world.
Next, she completely refused to acknowledge her own irresponsibility. When I told her that I, along with my staff, would do our best to look for it but could not make any promises of finding it, she became infuriated.
I happen to have a giant sign at the reception which clearly states that the salon will not be held responsible for any loss whatsoever, and every client must look after their own personal belongings. This is why, might I add, we have brides bring attendants along with them in order to look after their personal belongings.
Despite this, the lady became hyper and her behaviour started getting out of hand. I politely asked her to calm down and assured her that my staff and I would do our very best to help her find her chain. Keep in mind, this entire conversation was taking place over the phone.
And I kept my word.
My staff helped her look everywhere, even in the trashcan. When all our search efforts went in vain, I told her that there was nothing more that we could do to help. At this point, she lost her temper completely and started screaming, insinuating that my staff had stolen the chain. Maintaining a calm voice, I explained that, just as the sign at the reception stated, my employees and I could not be held responsible for her loss as it was her responsibility to keep check on her own personal belongings.
This, unfortunately, did not deter the lady from blaming my employees. I assured her, firmly, that all my employees have good morals and have been working with me for many years without a single complaint of this nature; they are like family to me. By now, she herself exclaimed that it wasn’t about the chain anymore, because it was valuable but not that valuable. She demanded I show up at the salon to address all her concerns in person as soon as possible and then she shut the phone.
I rushed to the salon to find her sitting at the main reception, still yelling at my staff. I tried talking to her and politely asked her to calm down several times, but she refused. There were two other clients of the salon present in the reception area, one of whom was an elderly lady who tried to douse the situation by giving the enraged client a glass of water to calm her down. At this point, this lady started yelling even louder and almost assaulted the elderly lady.
I told her that behaviour like that would not be tolerated under any circumstances and she was crossing the line when she started harassing the other people present.
I asked the elderly lady to take her seat and apologised to her on behalf of the lady. She proved to be such a sweetheart, held my hand and told me to take it easy and not be bothered by such people.
Coming back to the woman, Hina Khan (who I refuse to refer to as a client any longer) had gotten up by this time and was making her way past the reception in order to scare my employees and impose her alleged ‘authority’ over them. They were trying their best to ignore her. This further angered Mrs Khan.
While it would be very easy for my staff and I to lose our tempers too, and people who know me can vouch for my temper, we maintained a calm and composed demeanour throughout the time Mrs Khan repeatedly threw threats our way. To calm her down, I even tried to apologise for any offence that she claimed I caused her.
Unfortunately, no amount of politeness made her calm down.
I requested her, repeatedly, to come outside the salon with me so we could talk without disturbing any of the other clients present. I even told her that once we were out, she could yell at me to her hearts content. But adamant to make a public spectacle of herself and my salon, she accused me of trying to kick her out.
God knows how much I wanted to kick her out, but it took all of my willpower not to do exactly that.
She said she wouldn’t leave and would continue yelling until her husband got to the salon. I eventually had no choice but to call security for help, and that’s where things took a turn for the worst.
She started verbally abusing the entire staff. Two of my employees (one is pregnant and the other has a fractured arm) went to calm her down yet again and she had the gall to harshly push both of them away.
By this time I had had enough. There was nothing more we could do to help her, we had exhausted all our options, and ourselves, and so I asked for my staff’s help to firmly escort her out. It seemed to be working until she looked me dead in the eye for two seconds and then punched my face with full force.
Astonished by the sudden impact, my staff quickly led me out the salon through the back gate, so I could compose myself.
Despite having physically assaulted my person, Mrs Hina Khan refused to leave the premises of my salon. She did, however, go sit in her car – but she made sure she parked right in front of the salon door and insisted that she would continue to wait until the police mobile arrived.
She continued to threaten us and say that we didn’t know we were dealing with. And that she would make us pay.
Eventually the police mobile did arrive, and that is when things got really ugly. Thank God for CCTV cameras.
A point that I left out earlier was that Mrs Hina Khan is the wife of an assistant deputy director at our very own National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The police mobile unloaded four men, one of whom included the director himself, a police officer (stationed at the Shahrah-e-Faisal police station) and two of the director’s employees. None of these men, including the police officer, were in uniform, but they were all armed. They emerged from the police mobile and started beating my guard (who was also armed). They snatched his gun and almost broke his leg. Next they beat up a 14-year-old boy once they found out that he, too, worked at the salon. They made their way up the stairs whilst my girls quickly locked all the doors and immediately called ADT security. Upon their arrival we learnt that they, too, were helpless if the police were involved.
Those men trespassed without a warrant and vandalised my establishment. They forcefully entered a place full of women, scared my staff and clients, and ransacked my salon. They went door-to-door, trying purposely to kick every room door open and scare the people around. My staff remained as cooperative as possible during this entire fiasco. Upon nearing the massage area, however, a room with booths and curtains to maintain the client’s privacy, the manager informed them they could not proceed further. Instead, these men barged through the door and opened all the curtains and even broke one of the curtain rods. They stumbled upon one of my clients who lay bare-backed on one of the massage beds. Once they realised that many of my clients were now infuriated and could charge them for assaulting them or breaching their privacy, the men left the massage area.
The bare-backed client was so scared and humiliated, she gathered her things, and despite having left money at the counter of the salon, immediately left the premises. (She did return the next day to take back her money and refused to enter my establishment ever again. To this we constantly apologised and helped ease her concerns. What she went through was unfair and violating, and we understood that. But we apologised incessantly for having her exposed to such a fiasco, and promised she would never have to be put through something like that again. She thanked us for our support and returned a satisfied customer).
I honestly could not even believe this had happened until I saw it with my own eyes on the CCTV.
These men searched and broke my staff’s phones in order to erase the videos they had recorded at my request (there is no audio in the CCTV footage). One of my staff members was pregnant and she was manhandled by one of the officers because he refused to let her leave when her husband came to take her home, upon hearing what had commenced.
Mrs Hina Khan then had the audacity to walk back into my salon with the four men she had called, and verbally assault my staff. She pointed fingers and called out the names of the employees who she had problems with. Now please imagine, a woman enters the premises with armed men and then points finger at an already petrified staff. What was she trying prove? That she could have them kidnapped? Jailed? Or worse, killed?
Outraged at the audacity of this woman, we made our way to the police station to file an FIR. Mrs Hina Khan, too, made her way to the Shahrah-e-Faisal station. This time, however, she appeared in a dishevelled look, with rumpled hair and scratches all over her face. My mother and sister were completely shocked at her shameless acting. She limped into the station as if she had just fought an entire war all on her own. We decided not to comment on her attention-seeking disposition and instead went ahead with trying to seek justice. We had full faith in the authorities.
Boy, were we mistaken. We should’ve known better.
The next minute we found her wailing in front of the officer exclaiming things like, “maar kha ke aee hoon main” (I have just come here after being beaten up) amongst many other fabricated stories about the incident at the salon. Ironically, I was the one who had been punched in the face by her. She had not been touched by me or any of my staff members, other than when they tried to escort her out of the building (when she punched me) or when the staff tried consoling her.
When we started narrating our story, she began to threaten us. She told us that she had ‘connection’ through her husband and would not hesitate using them against us, and warned us of all she was capable of.
At this point, when we noticed the authorities backing away as well, we had no choice but to respond to her threats by surrendering.
I am so terribly and deeply saddened by the misuse of authority in this country. Despite taking extraordinary measures, my girls and I felt unsafe because of four men, one of whom was a policeman and the other a director at NAB! How ironic!
Aren’t these people meant to protect us? Then why were they trying to antagonise us further?
Isn’t the director of NAB supposed to be busy putting all his resources to use in managing the affairs of the country? How then did he have the power to terrorise me, my staff or my family?
When the authorities turn on you, where do you go for justice?
This woman had my guard beaten up, trespassed on my property and scared my staff, over a chain that she was responsible for in the first place. My staffers are hard-working girls who are trying to make a living, just like the rest of us. These women choose to work despite all odds. The least we can do is provide them with the choice to do so and a safe environment. Do you really think my pregnant staffer’s husband will allow her to come back to work after all of this? Probably not! And whose fault is that?
Is this the level of protection our government affords us?
If those who are supposed to hold criminals accountable are criminals themselves, then where do we go?
How can this absurd misuse of authority be permitted? And when can we tether genuine law and safety? What happened was unforgivable and I will make it my duty to not allow such an event to take place again. I will approach every media house I possibly can to make sure that justice is served, and this abuse of authority is stamped down upon. Please help me spread the word. Justice needs to be served and these people must realise that they cannot get away with misusing authority.
I have jeopardised my mother’s entire business by publishing this article here and on Facebook, but if this is the sacrifice we have to make then so be it, as long as it protects others from suffering the way we did.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.