Police in Pakistan arrested the entire staff of a fast food restaurant after they apparently refused to give a group of officers free burgers.
Nineteen workers at a Lahore branch of Johnny & Jugnu, a popular Pakistani fast food chain, were detained last week, two days after denying the officers free food.
Nine police officers have been suspended over the incident, which saw all 19 staff members on shift on June 11 taken in for more than seven hours.
During that time, a spokesperson for the chain says the officers began ‘harassing’ them and ‘pushing them around, all for not giving them free burgers, for not entertaining a ‘request from a very high profile special guest’,’ BBC News reports.
Incredibly, Johnny & Jugnu says this is not the first time an incident like this has happened, with the chain claiming police officers have repeatedly come into their restaurants demanding free food, sometimes intimidating and threatening staff when they refuse.
In a statement, the restaurant said:
Upon rejecting their request for free burgers, which has become a common practice for them, the police officers threatened our managers and left, only to return the next day to further harass and pressurise our teams…
‘The incident that took place yesterday was not the first time it happened and we are sure it’s not going to be the last,’ they said.
The restaurant said the initial incident occurred on June 9, with a group of officers returning two days later, when they proceeded to arrest the manager ‘without giving any reason whatsoever.’
‘Then they emptied out our entire branch, taking all of our kitchen crew, including the rest of the managers… fryers still running, customers waiting for their orders,’ they said.
It sounds like a serious case of hanger, but cases of police abusing their authority are said to be fairly common in some parts of Pakistan, with BBC News reporting that the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan, has specifically criticised police in the province of Punjab, of which Lahore is the capital, accusing officers of ‘cronyism’.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Inam Ghani, a senior official of the Punjabi police force, confirmed the officers involved in the incident had been suspended, writing, ‘No one is allowed to take the law into his own hands. Injustice will not be tolerated. All of them will be punished.’