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SLACKNESS on part of civic bodies as well as police has added to the woes of the people living in different areas falling under NA-123, Lahore VI, which proved a PML-N stronghold in the last general elections.
The poor performance of Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) and Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) in their respective domains as well as the alarming increase in the street crime and failure of police in curbing it are the two core issues confronted by the people of NA-123, Lahore VI.
Besides, other issues which need immediate attention, according the local population include streets inundated due to rains, heavily encroached main roads and routine traffic mess mainly due to the absence of traffic wardens. Keeping in view the last general election results, NA-123, Lahore VI can rightly be called a PML-N bastion as its ticket-holder Pervaiz Malik emerged victorious by getting more than 120,000 votes. The votes bagged by the PML-N candidate on this seat were more than the party head Nawaz Sharif, who could get around 92,000 votes from NA-120. However, the local people believe that justice wasn’t done to them according to the level of confidence they had shown into the party.
The provincial constituencies falling under NA-123 are PP-143 and PP-144 where Chaudhry Shahbaz Ahmed and Bau Akhter are sitting MPAs. Shahbaz has returned for his second term and he is also the Vice Chairman of WASA. The major areas falling in this constituency include a big portion of Shadbagh (rest falls in NA-119) comprised of Amir Road, Bhamman and Jhuggian Villages, Bhagatpura, China Scheme, Gujjarpura, Alya Town, Shawala Chowk, Janipura, Ghoray Shah, ample portion of GT Road near Baghbanpura. Most of the development in the area took place after the Local Government polls of 2001 and 2005. Most of the areas of NA-123, particularly pertaining to China Scheme and Gujjarpura side are a picture of neglect, which local people believe is due to multiple reasons
such as apathy of the elected representatives, poor performance of the government bodies and above all, the absence of local bodies which could well tackle the issues like past.
The survey conducted in the constituency found that most of the open grounds had turned into dumping ground and local people complained that not a single time, any staffer of LWMC bothered to remove filth. What has added to the troubles of the local population is stagnant water in the open areas, which has become a permanent breeding ground for mosquitoes, which not necessarily cause dengue, but could cause malaria outbreak.
A group of students while talking to The News complained that they were yet to see the elected representatives in their areas and due to their lack of concern, the officials from different departments never pay attention towards these areas.
A ground, just in front of a well-known girls college in China Scheme, near the drain is filled with fresh water and is a breeding place for dengue mosquito, which has played havoc with hundreds of lives during last six to eight years in Lahore, remained unchecked. Imran, one of the boys who have turned up to play cricket there told The News that not only in this particular area, even in many adjacent parts, filth had become a common sight but there had been no measures to remove it.
However, the people have also taken a sigh of relief over the repair work being carried out on the Shadbagh-China Scheme drain, which is more than 3km long and whose boundary wall at different points had been broken and posing serious life risk to commuters.
The boundary wall of this drain had been raised from different sides and at some points, even more than 40 feet area of the wall washed away by the rains in September.
On most of the occasions, attention of the relevant quarters was drawn through different sources to build the boundary wall of the drain which could prove hazardous in case any bus or vehicle carrying passengers falls into it. Local people stated that number of times, motorcyclists had fallen into the drain and faced serious injuries and now after local MNA Pervaiz Malik and MPA Chaudhry Shahbaz took notice, the repair work has been started. Local people told The News that even before the September rains which caused huge loss to the wall of the drain, most of the its points were damaged which also resulted in accidents and were an open death trap.
Besides, a positive development in the area is regarding the condition of public parks which have improved as compared to past, when most of them were not only a picture of neglect, but also safe havens for drug addicts in the evening.
Apart from a boys college, the Punjab government has also set up a degree college for women in the area and local people hailed this initiative. Shaista Pervaiz Malik, wife of the sitting MNA Pervaiz Malik and herself an MNA on seats reserved for women also seem active in party affairs in the constituency.
Street crime is another prime matter of concern for most of the local people who said that in the area of Shadbagh, particularly near Amir Road, Bhagatpura, Pir Ronki Park needed proper police attention. The area of NA-123, particularly falling mostly under PP-143 is the precinct of two police stations, including Shadbagh and Gujjarpura. One of it, Shadbagh falls in City Division which is headed by SP Asad Sarfaraz Khan. Gujjarpura Police Station is the part of Civil Lines Division which is headed by SP Imtiaz Sarwar.
Situation in Shadbagh witnessed some improvement in the area since the new SP took over in June this year, unfortunately, local police failed to ensure proper security of citizens later. Only in the month of December, the incidents of bike snatching, bike theft, robbery have witnessed a drastic rise as compared to the past months, since the new SHO, Sub Inspector Mohammad Raza took over the charge.
In the latest incident occurring on December 28 (Sunday), Fahad, a student and resident of Chaudhry Park, Shadbagh was deprived of his new motorbike by two armed motorcyclists, which he had purchased just a night ago. Fahad was just on his way to home and quite close to his house, he was intercepted by two armed men who, at gunpoint snatched his new motorbike and fled from the scene.
According to his family, the emergency 15 call was done soon after the incident but it took more than 30 minutes for the police team to reach the spot. The FIR of the incident has been registered.
In the month of December, Fayiz, a student was deprived of his bike in daylight.
The incident took place near old Wapda office situated close to Akram Park, Shadbagh. FIR was registered but so far no progress had been made in the case.
Family of Fayiz told The News that unknown persons broke into their house last year and made away with a bike. So, in 2013 and 2014, the same family had been deprived of the vehicles twice. Most of the people in the constituency complained that no elected representatives visited them to inquire about their condition.
Similarly, Sajjad, a trader lost his motorbike which was parked just outside his residence on December 17 from Chaudhry Park.
However, the incident which exposes the level of law and order is related with a robbery which took place on a department store owned by a youth named Abdul Qadeer. On December 10, Abdul Qadeer was sitting in his store when three unidentified men, at gunpoint robbed him of around Rs30,000 cash.
The incident took place in the evening. What shocks most of the local people is the fact that this wasn’t the first incident on this shop, as three persons, this year had also deprived the shop owner of his laptop, mobile phones and around Rs90,000 in the month of April.
At that time, Inspector Kamran Zaman was SHO Shadbagh whereas Imtiaz Sarwar was in-charge of the City Division. The shop owner time and again visited the police station but no official paid any heed towards his complaint and this time, having faced another robbery, the heartbroken citizen didn’t visit the police station. When contacted, Abdul Qadeer stated that in the same year, he had been robbed twice but not a single police official visited his shop to probe the incident, although the police station was situated just a few yards away from his store. Sufyan and Hamza, two brothers who run a mobile shop, in the front lane of Qadeer’s store at Amir Road, have also been looted by a two dacoits who, after entering the shop snatched cash from a salesman and after threatening of dire consequences, left the shop while drawing its shutter down a couple of months ago.
In the same week, Shaukat Ali, a resident of Gujjarpura on his way to home was deprived of around Rs100,000 cash, ATM cards and other documents by unidentified armed persons near Ilahi Town. Due to lack of police patrolling, the incident of car mirror theft have also become a routine in the area. Javed, a resident of Ferozepark, told The News that since 2011, more than 10 times, the mirror of his car had been stolen by unknown persons but only verbal assurances were given to him by the police. Within last three months, Javed lost side mirrors of his car at night and according to him, the price of a new pair is around Rs20,000 but, he had now started buying second hand sets which are not less than Rs15,000.
Sikander Khan, another resident, and a travel agent by profession was deprived of cash, mobile phones and laptop by unknown armed persons in September this year just outside his residence, when he was coming back from work. In the very next street, unknown persons made away with a sacrificial bull, worth Rs0.1 million from Ferozepark, just a few days before Eidul Azha. The bull belonged to Syed Farooq Iftikhar, a local resident who had tied it just outside his house.
In all the above cases, so far the victims said that no progress had been made.
In the area of Chaudhry Park, a few hundred yards from police station, number of incidents had occurred and people seemed greatly perturbed due to police failure in curbing such occurrences. The ring road underpass, which is a link between rest of Shadbagh and Ring Road, near Pir Ronqi graveyard has become a risky area for most of the persons. Naeem, a businessman, was also deprived of cash, mobile sets and other valuables a few months ago. The local police officials claimed that they were making the all-out effort to curb crime and nab the criminals. SHO of Shadbagh Police Station Mohammad Raza stated that police lacked proper wireless system and patrolling vehicles which had been taken back by the authorities. There was a dire need to facilitate police, recruit more contingents so that they could take proper care of this big area. Asad Sarfaraz, SP of City Division told The News that situation in his division was ‘under control’ and police had busted gangs and recovered looted material from them. He said in winter, the wave of crime increased but at the same time, police was committed to eliminate crime.
In the area of Gujjarpura, local people expressed dissatisfaction over the police role in curbing street crimes. However, Qamar Abbas, the local SHO when contacted said the all-out effort had been made to control crime in the area.
He said street crime was an international issue. He said there had been complaints in the past but situation was improving now and number of street crime incidents had come down. Imtiaz Sarwar, SP Civil Lines Division when contacted said the police teams had been assigned duties in their respective areas to maintain peace. He said all the required measures had been taken to ensure security of the citizens.
Traffic and encroachments: Traffic mess has also become a routine in most parts of the constituency which included Amir Road, Shadbagh-China Scheme drain road, Sher Shah Road but traffic wardens are seen seldom in these parts. Moreover, major roads, including ample portion of GT Road, falling in PP-144 are heavily encroached which cause routine traffic mess. The matter had also been taken up in Punjab Assembly by the MPA Bau Akhter and another female MPA hailing from the area, Raheela Khadim Hussein. However, no action, so far has been taken.
Local Representatives’ views: MNA Pervaiz Malik told The News that there was no denying the fact that there were issues which needed solution but at the same time, the PML-N government had also left no stone unturned in providing every possible relief to the people. He said as an MNA, he was totally connected with the people of his constituency and his doors were always open for them. He said PML-N was committed to provide maximum relief to the public. Chaudhry Shahbaz Ahmed, the MPA elected from PP-143 said special focus had been laid to improve the situation of schools, colleges, roads but despite all steps, there were always room for improvement.
He said the government would take all steps to address the complaints of local people regarding any department.
Bau Akhter, MPA elected from PP-144 while talking to The News stated there was no doubt that basic issues concerning public were there in the constituency but at the same time, concrete measures had been taken by the government to address them. He said in order to address the issue of clean drinking water, the chief minister had taken special initiatives. Besides, he said the people in his constituency also faced environmental issues due the presence of factories situated in the residential areas.
However, he said measures were also underway to tackle this issue. Regarding law and order, he said shortage of police force was the prime cause behind this issue which certainly needed to be addressed. He said presence of a local government was necessary in addressing the basic public issues.