Lathi is an ancient armed martial art of Pakistan. It also refers one of the world’s oldest weapons used in martial arts
Lathi (Urdu) means stick and also refers to a martial art based on cane-fighting. The word is used in Urdu and various other languages. The lathi typically measures 6 to 8-foot (2.4 m) and may be tipped with metal. It is commonly used as a crowd control device by the Pakistani Police and other South Asian law enforcement agencies. A lathi Laraka (Fighter) is known as a lathial or lethel or lathait.
Following their conquest of India and Pakistan the Mughals introduced zamindar, which refers to intermediary landed elements with various levels of inheritable land rights. Lathial groups were sent to forcefully collect taxes from villagers. The zamindari system continued during British rule and wasn't abolished until after India's independence in 1947. Rich farmers and other eminent people in today's Indian and Pakistani villages still hire lathial for security and as a symbol of their power. Disputes in villages, when settled illegally, still involve lathi battles, but this is no longer common and has largely been replaced by legal methods or, rarely, shootouts. Although lathi remains a popular sport in Indian and Pakistani villages, urbanisation has led to its decline as a rural martial art.
Lathi became popular among villages of Pakistan,India and Bangladesh.Other than fighting lathi was often used to control domestic animals. A common Urdu saying goes “Jiski lathi, uski bhains” meaning, “he who wields the lathi gets to keep the buffalo” (“bhains” in Urdu).
Lathi are now often used to control riots and also as a secondary weapon. In modern times, the lathi is the primary weapon of the Pakistani police along with helmets, shields, tear gas and other methods. Policemen are trained in highly co-ordinated drill movements which can leave many of the rioters crippled. This drill has been quite controversial among human rights activists so in many places the police do not follow the drill but hit in such a way to disperse the crowds. Security guards and police officers often carry a lathi along with or in place of firearms. They prefer lathi for their ease of use and comparative safety and only resort to firearms in situations when lathi cannot be used efficiently.
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