Murgha Position: Crime and Punishment During Phet

Posted on June 9, 2010
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, Photo of the Day, Society
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Sehar Tariq

This is, what is called the “Murgha position” in Pakistan.A way to punish someone – often young students in school – for minor infractions. But this particular story of crime and punishment in Pakistan is slightly more novel.

In anticipation of cyclone Phet, the government barred people from going into the Arabian Sea. One daredevil rickshaw wallah paid no heed to this warning and decided to use the unusually quiet beach and
boisterous waves to wash his rickshaw.

But his crime did not go unnoticed by the vigilant Pakistan police. The offender was caught and duly punished albeit in a rather creative way. But I guess there really aren’t any laws on the books about punishments for rickshaw washing in the sea when a cyclone approacheth!

This picture has been doing rounds on the internet and I don’t have a way to validate its authenticity or timing. But it does give us some food for thought. And since yesterday, I have been thinking whether to be appalled, amused or appreciative of the vigiliance and creativity of this police officer!

What do you think?

22 responses to “Murgha Position: Crime and Punishment During Phet”

  1. Watan Aziz says:



    But first, minor editorial corrections. We do not have “Pakistan Police” in Pakistan. It is Punjab Police, Sind Police, etc. Or we can say “police in Pakistan” or “Pakistani police” in generic terms. ATP should spend at least as much time on corrections as much on building HTML tags. There needs to be a difference between Jang and ATP.

    Second, the person in the picture appears to have stripped rank on his uniform. That makes him a policeman and not an “officer”.

    Now, the problems with picture for either being photoshopped or stagged.

    1. The surf in storm conditions can wash a rickshaw away in no time. That rickshaw is too far out for it’s own good. The waves behind it are easily higher than the wheels. Running rain water on the streets can wash a rickshaw away and it does not even have the strength of a tidal wave.

    2. The alleged policeman appears to be standing on top of the wave and his pants are dry? For the amount of time he was there to get this picture stagged, at least one wave can overrun him and wet his pants.

    Now, as for the legality. Any decent book will give you great insight on this topic.

    I do find it both fascinating and amazing that there are people who would not like wrong done to them but are willing to accept wrong done to someone else.

    I must add, that if you accept a minor wrong, then be prepared to accept a major wrong. A wrong doer with police powers does not know the difference. This is why the police refuses to register a FIR of the weak. This is why they resort to shake down someone for money. This is exactly why Police will obey an illegal order from superiors.

    And this is why it was so easy to get the Chief Justice of Pakistan get slapped by one of his brethren.

    And this is why the usurper knows no difference and is no different, evil or enlightened.

    And this is exactly why this is wrong.

    This is wrong, period.

    The choice should not be between corruption and punishment, disregarding the police or lathi charge. A good and decent society knows the difference between crime and mistake of a person or persons. But this should never be confused with a crime or a mistake of someone with police powers. Police should move to respectable position if they are perceived to be protecting people and not enforcing; accommodating and caring and not arbitrary.

    An ordinary warning would have been sufficient. Every offense that does not endanger someone else’s property or life does not rise to the level of criminal prosecution. Sometimes, people do not get it, sometimes they get it. It is human nature.

    Finally, there is a certain giddyness and glibness in the post. A glee is apparent in the choice of words of being “The offender was caught and duly punished albeit in a rather creative way” and “But this particular story of crime and punishment in Pakistan is slightly more novel”.

    There should have been a full throated rebuke at this conduct. I expect nothing less than knowing the difference between “adl” and absence “adl” for anything filed under the category of “Adil”.

    The single biggest problem Pakistanis are facing is lack of values. Value for human life, value for human dignity, value for law, value for justice, value for equity, value for a woman’s respect, value for a life of a “maid servant”. Value. Value. Value.

    And value for a person is being flaunted in this picture. There is no question on “whether to be appalled, amused or appreciative of the vigiliance and creativity of this police officer!” (sic).

    It is appalling.

  2. S.Mirza says:

    I think this treatment is minimal. I live near the beach and i almost pitied the policemen. They spent the whole day telling people to not go in the water. They broke their backs yelling, honking vans and using the loudspeaker, but the stubborn awam did not listen. If any bad incident, God Forbid happened, people would blame these very policemen, even though they really were doing their best.

  3. Rabi says:

    poor chap must have ended up with a bad back for a week

  4. Aziz says:

    Murgha punishment in a “normal” punishment in every Pakistani’s dictionary. I have been on the receiving end by my teachers, parents as well as..yes…Karachi Police. And yes, I was a mischievious kid :) Is it the right thing to do? Yes. Any other process would have been long, financially not feasible for the rickshaw driver or the tax payers and would not reap much benefit. This quick and swift punishment method taught the rickshaw driver a lesson and I doubt he would do it again. If I were the policeman, I would have asked him to leave, then sternly asked him to leave, then warn him about consiquences and finally did what the policeman did.

    For my friends who think this is not fair, do you think lathi charge or tear gas is fair? It is a part of the rule book and our police follows it. Similarly, this is quick and simple punishment method which goes a long way in changing his rickshaw driver’s habits.

    Now, I would be concerned about the rickshaw though. Poor thing is sitting in high currents all by itself. First, the driver is stupid to wash his rickshaw in the ocean, secondly, the police is not good enough or he would have tried to save this poor man’s livelyhood first :)

  5. Yasmeen says:

    I cant understand why he will put his rickshaw in sea water. That cannot be good.

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