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March 23, 2020

Law enforcers gear up for lockdown as Karachiites stock up on food


March 23, 2020

At 8pm on Sunday night when only four hours were left before the lockdown announced by the Sindh government in the province, a teacher, Alauddin Siddiqui, 45, went out to buy essential items from a grocery shop.

As he was standing at a shop in Federal B Area Block 16, a police mobile of the Yousuf Plaza police station arrived at the scene with female SHO Anila Qadir sitting in the front seat. Peeking out from the window of her vehicle, she politely asked the shopkeeper to close the shop at midnight and advised the people to stay at their homes.

Siddiqui said it was the first time he had seen a police officer speaking in such a polite tone and commented that the police were playing a commendable role in this time of crisis.

“I was delighted to see the police and especially the female police officer who was on the streets for the public. This is the first time in my life I am seeing police communicating in such a way. All my life I have seen the police using clubs to discipline the public but never in this sweet way,” he said.

Siddiqui was among many others who had rushed to shops to buy household items after they heard about the Sindh government’s decision to lock down the province in order to deal with coronavirus pandemic.

Although the lockdown notification clearly mentioned that the grocery item shops would not be shut, people still thronged the markets as they felt going to shops during the lockdown might not be a pleasant experience as they would have to deal with cops on the roads and clarify their motive behind stepping out of home.

Meanwhile, as the law enforcement agencies in Karachi geared up to implement the Sindh government’s decision to lock down the city for 15 days, many people across the city witnessed scenes similar to what Siddiqui experienced.

A video shared on social media showed the Ibrahim Hyderi police advising the people to follow the government orders because social distancing was for their own safety and well-being.

The police patrolled the streets of the city making announcements that people should restrict themselves to their houses after 12am. They also warned that action would be taken against those who were found together in a group of four or more in violation of the lockdown measures.

Earlier in the day, Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar chaired a special meeting on the overall law and order situation in the city, and the operational and investigation affairs of the police.

During the meeting, the IGP gave special directives to the three zonal DIGs, and district and investigation SSPs regarding the precautionary steps needed to be taken against the coronavirus spread and crimes, particularly street crime.

He also issued directions related to proclaimed offenders and absconders, and under-trial criminal cases and forensic investigations of the police cases.

IGP Mahar said the guidelines issued by the Sindh government should be implemented in letter and spirt to tackle the emergency situation in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

Stating that the provincial government’s guidelines were for effectively preventing further transmission of the viral disease, the IGP said the Central Police Office would issue directives from time to time to implement the guidelines.

He added that the system of police patrolling and random snap checking should be improved in the city to prevent crimes and the SHOs should supervise operations against criminals in their respective areas.

The IGP said crackdown and operations would be launched to apprehend absconders and proclaimed offenders involved in heinous crimes after reviewing the criminal cases. The pending criminal cases whose investigation was yet to be completed should be resolved as soon as possible while the under-trial cases should be expeditiously pursued, he added.

The officer also issued directions for early completion of the forensic investigation of criminal cases. He said the performance of the SHOs, SI, and IOs would be analysed on the basis of their achievements in operations and investigations.

The police also issued directives for the general public in order to make the lockdown effective. “People should stay at their homes and coordinate with the police. Otherwise, stern action will be taken against the violators," reads a communique issued by Sindh Operations AIG Asad Malhi.

"The prior permission from the SHO of the police station concerned should be taken for the funeral prayers,” the communique read. The officer also directed the employees of essential services like the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, PTCL and K-Electric to keep CNICs and office cards with them.

Meanwhile, the Rangers also patrolled streets and roads, making announcements that the people should ensure the closure of non-essential services. The paramilitary force also asked the shopkeepers of the essential items to wear masks and gloves.