It was a hot May morning. An old couple in a small house on Shalimar Link Road in Mughalpura had just woken up when two stout men, armed with guns, broke in.
Spotting the robbers, the lady began to shout. This irked the gunmen and they started bashing the inmates before making away with cash and gold ornaments worth hundreds of thousands of rupees.
This isn’t not the first incident of its kind that happened in Lahore recently. There are countless that are registered with the police on an almost daily basis. TNS got hold of data of the FIRs which actually exposes the failure of the police to protect its citizens.
Incidentally, the crime rate in the city has gone up despite the fact that a host of ‘specialised’ police forces such as Dolphin Squad and Police Response Unit (PRU) have been formed in recent months and these, together with the other Punjab Police personnel, have also increased patrolling. Huge funds are being used to maintain these forces. To what effect?
According to the data, 3,722 FIRs were registered between January 1 to April 26, 2017. At least 800 of these were incidents of robbery. In Model Town Division, 563 FIRs of different crimes including robbery were reported. In Iqbal Town Division, 458 cases of different nature including robbery, robbery with murder, car snatching, car lifting, bike snatching, and burglary were filed.
Majority of the cases were reported from Saddar Division, followed by City Division and Cantt Division. Civil Lines Division had the lowest crime rate, with 372 reported cases.
Interestingly, most of these incidents took place at afternoon time.
Citizens complain that they cannot get the FIRs registered without bribing the officials, which is why the number of crimes reported remains far less than it actually is.
Some even say the FIRs have been registered by the Front Desk but there’s no response from the police.
Haidar Ashraf, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Operations, Lahore rejects the allegations, saying that an FIR is registered within no time and the police responds immediately.
He maintains that there is a lot of pressure on the police but “we endure it in the service of the people.
“The police is tasked with maintaining law and order situation in the city. It is supposed to guard the places of worship and protect the markets. Besides, we provide security to the VIPs, combat crimes, and patrol the city round the clock with the help of Dolphin Force and PRU.”
However, Ashraf insists he has taken notice of the increase in crime rate and served show cause notices to some police officers. There are several SHOs who have been taken to task for poor performance.
In response to a query, he reveals that more police is to be deployed in areas where there are greater incidences of crime. “Their deployment shall be made considering the nature of crime. Hotspots have been identified and so are the frequency and timing of a particular type of crime. Special focus is to be given to these areas at the said times.”
Khurram Shabbir Butt, Law Officer in the office of the Inspector General Punjab (IGP) Police, is more realistic. He says crime cannot be eliminated 100 per cent, though it can be minimised. “As the population increases, the incidence of crime is likely to increase too, which makes it difficult for the police to monitor the troublemakers.”
Butt further says the fear of being apprehended, arrested or punished does help to curb crime.
He reveals that the installation of latest CCTV cameras at assorted places in Lahore, which is part of the Safe City Project, shall also come in handy. “Once completed, the project shall help to identify criminals and track their movement.”