In a disturbing turn of events, a security supervisor at a hospital has been arrested for secretly torturing people within the hospital premises.
Police say leaked videos show the abuse had been going on for at least three months in the largest and oldest public hospital in Lahore, Pakistan. It is unclear why the alleged torture was filmed. Police suspect it may have been filmed for entertainment purposes or for record-keeping.
According to police, Zohaib Malik, a privately contracted security and maintenance supervisor who had been working at Mayo Hospital for 10 years, was the “mastermind” behind the torture room.
Police say Malik “punished” people suspected of theft, trespassing or what he deemed as “misbehaving” in the sprawling hospital campus that serves thousands every day.
“You can say he used to act like a judge inside of his own courtroom. He would take the person and then he would question them. He would resort to violence if he did not get the answers he required,” Lahore city police superintendent Rizwan Tariq told VICE World News.
In a video viewed by VICE World News, Malik can be seen striking a man on the floor with a shoe. In another, he is seen yanking the hair of a man whom he goes on to slap repeatedly.
So far, none of the victims have come forward. “They’re people from low-income groups. Also, some of them were homeless people, that's why they haven’t approached the police,” said Tariq.
The hospital’s director Iftikhar Ahmed told the local press that Malik has been suspended and that the hospital has formed a committee to investigate the case.
Police suspect that other hospital staff helped Malik detain the individuals and film them being tortured in a room that was usually used as a conference room.
“The whole security apparatus of the hospital – all the people who were reporting to this man because he was a supervisor – would obviously have been a part of it, either willingly or unwillingly,” said Tariq.
The Mayo Hospital also came under fire in May, after a former security guard pretended to be a doctor and performed surgery on a woman who died weeks later.
The public hospital and the rest of Pakistan’s healthcare system were already overburdened before the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis has stretched hospitals even further, making oversight of their overworked staff and limited resources even more difficult.
Follow Rimal Farrukh on Twitter