Police claim that they have pulled up their socks to fight street crime and protect the life and property of citizens during Ramazan
s we enter the holy month of Ramazan, the city police have announced they have a “fool-proof” security plan. The life and property of the citizens, we are told, will be secured and all offenders, from terrorists to petty criminals, thwarted. Can the police really come up to the expectations of Lahoris, leave alone their lofty claims?
In addition to a surge in the street crime, the recent string of events at Zaman Park, where former prime minister Imran Khan lives, has shaken the faith of many citizens in the force’s ability to provide them protection.
How can city police safeguard the life and property of all citizens if they cannot as much as enter Zaman Park now that the Inspector General of
Punjab Police, Dr Usman Anwar, is reported to have issued instructions against doing so in the wake of fierce clashes with violent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers?
Zaman Park and the part of the Canal Bank Road bordering it were taken over by aggressive PTI workers in January and turned into a no-go area for the police. In the name of protecting the life of their leader, scores of PTI workers, armed with clubs, have encroached upon the road and the green belt and set up scores of camps.
The encroachment has resulted in congestion and caused frequent traffic jams on the road, on the Thandi Sarak, on Mayo Road and occasionally on The Mall. The residents of the area have been complaining about the severe problems they have been facing because of the ‘protests’ and the ‘protection’ but this appears to have bothered neither the PTI nor the police.
The fragile situation took an ugly turn when an Islamabad Police team arrived in the city last week to serve a warrant issued by a court in Islamabad. The PTI workers got violent and did not allow the police to access Khan. They appeared ready to take on not just the police but also the Rangers deployed for the Pakistan Super League security. Clashes between PTI workers and the police and Rangers left many injured on both sides. Besides many vehicles were vandalized and otherwise damaged.
Subsequent police action, visibly ill-planned and abrupt, resulted in more violence. Some of the PTI workers gathered around Zaman Park attacked police on The Mall. A bus carrying policemen was commandeered and pushed into the canal. Scores of policemen were beaten. Surprisingly, at this stage the IG declared Zaman Park a “no-go area” for his own force who were supposed to protect the life and property of the citizens.
According to the CCPO’s office, the police have taken several measures and made fool-proof security arrangements in the provincial metropolis for the holy month of Ramazan to maintain law and order and the smooth flow of traffic.
Ahmed Ismael, a resident of Zaman Park, says, “How can we trust a police force who cannot deal with a handful of violent workers of a political party? We are hopelessly trapped. Reaching our homes and stepping out has become perilous. It’s unfortunate that we cannot count on anyone to come to our rescue.”
Khalid Tabassum, another resident of the same locality, says, “I have to take a long detour to reach my home. It’s quite a punishment for the residents to be subject to body searches at several pickets set up by the PTI workers.
“How can I trust police to protect me when street criminals are out 24/7 to deprive the citizens of their hard-earned money at gun-point,” asks Tabassum. He adds, “Street crime has become the order of the day. How can one feel himself safe in the city? I don’t believe that police can provide fool-proof security to anyone during Ramazan.”
According to the CCPO’s office, the city police have taken a number of measures and made adequate arrangements in the provincial metropolis for the holy month of Ramazan to maintain law and order and ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
More than 5,000 police officials have been ordered to perform security duties during the month at mosques, imam bargahs and shrines, important markets, bazaars and sensitive office buildings to prevent an untoward incident.
The nearly 5,000 mosques have been divided into three categories, in terms of perceived threat or lack of it, he adds. He says 218 mosques fall in the A category, 775 in B category and 4,064 in C category.
The CCPO’s office maintains that security arrangements have been made to provide protection to all mosques and imam bargahs in the city in addition to maintaining the law and order. All divisional superintendents of police (SPs), assistant superintendents of police (ASPs) and deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) from both Operations and Investigation wings have been directed to give their maximum to maintain law and order during the holy month of Ramazan.
Police have been delivered strict orders to ensure the implementation of the security plan.
The writer is a senior journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org