Staff At Lahore Club 'Tortured' After PML-N MPA's Valuables Are Stolen

Staff allege they were strip searched and tortured by police; Police say they are still investigating the matter and have yet to arrest anyone after the MPA lodged an FIR

Staff At Lahore Club 'Tortured' After PML-N MPA's Valuables Are Stolen

Staff at a private club in Lahore were allegedly thrashed and tortured after they were accused of stealing the valuables of a serving provincial assembly lawmaker from the ruling party.

Police say they are still investigating the matter and have yet to arrest anyone, even though an FIR has been lodged.

The incident occurred on March 21, when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MPA Uzma Kardar was swimming at a club located in Model Town after the assembly session earlier that day. After her swim, she noticed some of her valuables, which she had placed in her purse before the swim, were missing. 

She suspected that her valuables could have been stolen from her purse in her locker by the club staff while she was swimming. At least two staffers accused are Christians. She expressed her suspicions about two women instructors and two other staff who were present in and around the swimming pool when she was swimming. She claimed that the missing valuables were worth Rs500,000 and included jewellery.

Kardar first complained to the club authorities about the disappearance of the items. When they made little headway into the incident, she called the police to investigate the matter.

A case of theft was also registered.

Staff claims torture

However, video statements of the pool staff emerged later, in which they claimed Kardar left the club after her session in the pool on Thursday evening. But she returned around 30-45 minutes later, claiming that items were missing from her bag and accusing two staffers by name.

The staffer claimed they urged Kardar to check for the missing items as no one had taken anything. However, the staff said Kardar kept accusing them of theft.

The staff said that members are allotted lockers, and only members have the key. Kardar, though, allegedly said that her key was kept outside and then claimed that the staffers had taken it.

They claimed that Kardar had their body searched and even strip searched. Later, when the police arrived, they took the four staffers of the club to the police station for questioning.

The staff claimed that police officers threatened them with torture, with at least one officer slapping them apart from other beatings.

The statement was corroborated by a second staffer whom Kardar had accused of being involved.

One of the staffers who claimed to be beaten up by the police shows her swollen hand.

The second staffer said that the police misbehaved with them and spoke strangely to them after learning about their religion.

She also claimed she was slapped and punched at the police station, which left her with bruises on her hands, feet and other places around her body, while a group of police officers, including male and female officers, questioned them.

The second staffer pleaded her innocence, adding that she was also in the pool for three hours, so she could not have stolen any items.

The two staffers said they were detained at the police station for over three hours. During that time, they were denied access to phones while they were beaten up and threatened with additional beatings if they did not cough up the stolen items.

Police deny allegations

When approached, Investigation Officer Asif denied allegations of roughing up the staff of the club or arresting them. 

Confirming that a formal FIR has been lodged for the theft, he told The Friday Times that they have yet to make any arrests in the case.

Kardar claims suspects are being protected

MPA Uzma Kardar, however, told The Friday Times that the police briefly detained some suspects but then released them, explaining that since all the suspects were women, they could not detained at police stations overnight. She further alleged that some people were trying to protect the accused.

She rejected the accusations that the club staff were tortured, terming them as a pack of lies. 

Asked why she did not leave her purse in her car, the MPA responded that her driver was new and she did not trust him with her valuables. She added that she put the purse in her locker at the club before entering the pool. She further claimed that several members have complained about theft at the club in the past. 

When IO Asif was asked about Kardar's explanation, the officer rejected it. He reiterated that no one had been arrested, and suspects were not released simply because they were women. He added that they were still investigating the matter, and it cannot be asserted with certainty who the culprit is at this stage.

He further disclosed that police have sought call data records for the four suspects and recording of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed inside and around the club. He said they would investigate all aspects of the case before making a determination.