The recent surge in incidents of mugging, daylight robbery and murder has exposed the performance of the operation wing of Lahore police
Contrary to claims made by the Lahore police, the crime graph in the city has gone up in recent days. At least 12 citizens are reported to have lost their lives and several others hurt and/or deprived of valuables by muggers and bandits over the past two or so months.
The surge in incidents of mugging, daylight robbery, dacoity and murder has exposed the performance of the operation wing of the Lahore police and the efficacy of the mobile forces like the Dolphin Squad and Police Response Unit created and maintained at a huge cost.
The criminals are able to strike at will, despite the presence of hundreds of cops at scores of police pickets, set up on various city roads and thoroughfares. This is a unique phenomenon witnessed during the lockdown. Robbers’ swift mobility vis-à-vis the inability of the police to catch hold of them has left the common man feeling insecure.
The ATMs remain the favourite locations for these criminals to waylay their targets and deprive them of cash and belongings. In many cases, the people who put up some resistance were shot dead or badly injured.
Footages of such incidents are doing the rounds on social media. In a recent video, captured anonymously from a distance somewhere in Model Town, a man whose face is covered can be seen screaming abuse at a woman who has parked her car outside a bank; the man pulls out his gun and starts firing at her ferociously. The gunshots can be heard clearly.
Ahmed Ali, a resident of Gulberg, narrates a similar incident in which he was mugged by two unidentified men who were riding a motorbike, just as he stepped out of an ATM. The men took away all his cash.
“Had I resisted, I’m sure they’d have killed me right there,” Ali says. He admits that going to the ATM at sundown was a mistake — “the nearby shops were all closed, and the place was deserted.”
Later, when he went to report the incident, Ali says that the police dillydallied. “They joked about the amount snatched not being big enough to be mentioned in the FIR. They even offered to pay me the same [amount] if I quit complaining about it.”
“In 70 percent of the cases, the police do not register FIRs, in response to complaints received on their
emergency helpline , in order to give the false impression that the crime rate has come down.”
According to Ali, he was sent off on the pretext that the SHO wasn’t present at the police station. “They said they’d file the FIR only when the SHO was around.”
Days later, the case is yet to be registered.
Mirza Ramazan Beg, who works as a correspondent for a private TV channel, says that the crime statistics are manipulated. “It works like this: In 70 percent of the cases, the police do not register FIRs, in response to complaints received on their emergency helpline , in order to give the false impression that the crime rate has come down.”
The Lahore police, according to Beg, was guilty of the same attitude when the Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA) had prepared a report and sent it to IGP Shoaib Dastgir. “It was clearly mentioned in the report that most incidents are not registered under heads of street crime or vehicle theft.
“An FIR empowers the police to investigate the case. If it isn’t registered, the legal process cannot continue,” he adds.
As per data collected by this scribe, 46,246 incidents of assorted crimes such as murder and robbery were reported over the past four months in Lahore. Moreover, around 2,500 motorcycles and 400 other vehicles were either snatched at gunpoint or whisked away by the criminals. The number is expected to rise now that the lockdown has been eased.
The Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore, Zulfiqar Hameed, rejects the notion that the crime rate in Lahore has increased. He speaks of a drop of 39 percent in incidents of dacoity and robberies, and that of 37 percent in cash/valuables snatching incidents.
Hameed also claims that incidents of murder have seen a sharp decline by 80 percent; incidents of theft have come down by 33 percent, and those of car snatching by 30 percent during the partial lockdown.
Elaborating on the factors, Hameed says the crime triangle is composed of the victim, the criminal and the cops. During a lockdown, because the whole city is deserted, the potential ‘victim’ is missing from the streets and roads, and therefore the ‘criminal’ can’t do much about it. At the same time, the presence of hundreds of cops at every nook and corner of the city intimidates the criminals.
Replying to a query, the CCPO says that it is impossible to depute the police at each and every ATM in the city. “However, owing to extensive patrolling of the ATMs by the police squads as well as the concerned police stations, we are successfully providing security to the life and property of the citizens around the clock during the lockdown.”
According to him, as lockdown restrictions are eased, the Lahore police has taken extra measures to ensure security, especially during the Eid ul Fitr holidays.