Crime Watch: Image drives and robberies rise
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE: It’s been a busy week for the police in Lahore. Apart from mobilising to track down the serial killers responsible for eight murders (and counting) of homeless people, there was an alarming rash of dacoitys and two campaigns to worry about.
Punjab Police launched a month long campaign on July 4 to raise awareness about traffic rules and get traffic constables to treat citizens with respect. However good it was to see policemen distributing handbills on traffic etiquette to motorists in an attempt to get them to reform, no one doubts what a gargantuan task it is to get Lahoris to respect road rules. But others were also sceptical that their traffic policemen would suddenly become more polite.
Transporters complained that it might be one thing to see traffic cops speaking politely in daylight, but they expected little courtesy at night. “Around two at night when we enter the city to deliver goods, we are stopped at specific points by the traffic police, who speak harshly to us. Finally, when we fulfil their ‘demand’, they suddenly speak very politely,” says Mansha, a truck driver.
The other campaign launched was for the promotion of community policing, a project pushed through by the new Punjab inspector general, Ziaul Hassan Khan, and Additional IG Syed Azhar Hassan Nadeem.
AIG Nadeem launched a similar venture some years ago when he was Gujranwala SSP. On his advice, Lahore police tried to launch a similar campaign in 1999, but it never really took off.
This time, it appears more serious. SSP Amir Zulfiqar arranged a well-publicised walk in Defence where citizens mixed with top police officers. Another walk was later arranged in the Bhaati Gate area in the Walled City.
The SSP, whose stated aim is for a Lahore cop to be as trustworthy as a British bobby, scored another hit by appointing Woman SP Farkhanda Iqbal to head the community policing project.
However, claims of soft policing and community policing are undermined by incidents such as one on Thursday when an elderly man died of a heart attack outside the office of the Cantt SP. Akbar Hayat had been trying for a long time to meet the SP and air his complaint that police were refusing to register a case where he was defrauded of Rs 700,000, but his way was blocked by lower staff at the SP’s office.
Meanwhile, Lahore’s homeless population is in a panic with the confirmation this week that a new gang of serial killers murdered eight people on the streets. This just two years after the Danda Group killed 15 people in the city.
Another gruesome crime made the headlines on Wednesday, when a class 10 student was raped by her headmaster in Bhagbanpura. The governor ordered swift action and the headmaster has been arrested.
Otherwise, Lahoris were deprived of millions of rupees worth of goods in a rash of armed robberies on homes and on car drivers. The police will have their hands full for some time yet.