Waqas Zaheer of Badami Bagh Lahore has been running from pillar to post to seek justice from Lahore police in two separate episodes. The tragic story of young man, who is a journalist by profession, begins from a complaint he lodges with the local police station to seek immediate police intervention into life threats against his close relative as both are the claimants of an ancestral property.
The complainant moves his first application to the City SP (Operations) following a scuffle with the opposite party on October 6, 2017 with no immediate relief. He then meets the DIG (Operations) Lahore who marks the application to the same SP on Oct 16.
The SP calls the meeting of the SHO and both parties on Oct 23 for the resolution of dispute without any conclusion. Waqas moves his second application for FIR against severe leg injury of his father in result of physical scuffle to the DIG on Nov 16. And the same traditional marking of applications take place.
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The applicant knocks the door of the CCPO Lahore on Nov 22 and the same application was marked to the SP City again. Eventually what could be expected from the police as a tradition, the complainant receives a report from the Badami Bagh PS about the disposal of the second application without FIR against physical torture despite medico-legal report on Nov 24.
Justice delayed is justice denied- a universal and bitter truth suits well to the Punjab police and its officers. Tall claims of improved public service delivery, change in police station culture through front desks and trained staff, free registration of cases, complaint management system and follow up, Information Technology-led smart policing and scientific investigation are talk of the town now a days. The champions of police reforms in the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) cadre are seen giving interviews to the print and electronic media with their types of newly-introduced innovations all the time.
The change is seen up to the extent that the Punjab police especially Lahore police have got improvements in electronic monitoring and surveillance mechanism of suspected people and elements, state of the art patrolling forces, training of uniformed policemen serving at police stations, improved forensic expertise to trace cases and welfare steps for cops.
This change appears to be catching the attention of citizens and the people sitting at the helm of affairs, but practically such ‘one-sided’ reforms with investments worth billions of rupees and aimed at changing police station culture through smart policing and providing quick relief to the masses seem to a fruitless exercise- a dream which has not yet come true.
Enjoying lucrative field postings, senior police officers ranking from the Superintendent of Police (SP) to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) are seen making efforts to change the police working atmosphere, but with little relief to the complainants.
A good of number of them perhaps be more interested in securing their tenures and getting ‘due and undue’ benefits from their positions by creating lobbies in the power corridors and serving the interests of politicians.
For example, a senior police officer who claims he is a trend setter for bringing revolutions in the operational matters of police during his field tenures has now become a ‘controversial’ figure even within the police circles.
The officer who began his dominating career as an SP Investigation in the capital city district police Lahore around eight to nine years ago and proved to be an ‘effective’ officer in terms of public relief now has been enjoying one of the top slots in the Lahore police with a difference that now a days he is usually not available for public relief and prompt justice and rather is seen serving his political and bureaucratic masters, frequently visiting countries and investing in a foreign destination.
The officer under discussion, who is still SSP by rank, completed his journey from an SP to a DIG very smoothly with four field postings being District Police Officer (DPO) and a City Police Officer (CPO) in times when upright and professional police officers had no lobby or references to get field postings.
PSP officers are often seen discussing the said officer because of his around three-year tenure in the provincial capital. He has reportedly bought an expensive residential property in Canada and got Canadian nationality for his family.
The complainants in distress use to visit the said officer’s office for seeking quick intervention and then run from pillar to post between multiple offices- a tradition which suggests the officer had got his priorities changed. Without any official obligation the officer also receives the top government officials at the Lahore airport.
But the officer is usually seen performing extra ordinarily during law and order handling in high profile events like international cricket matches. The officer, who is apparently afraid of losing his posting, is leaving no stone unturned to appease the CM circles to apparently penetrate more and more in the CM circles.
This is not a story of one PSP officer rather it is a chain of stories our civil servants carry in Punjab.
A police officer starting from the post of the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) starts looking towards key slots for multiple objectives- a trend which has been set by their superiors in PSPs.
Still we find a bunch of upright and professional police officers in the department who keep focus on their professional goals rather serving the interests of other groups.
Unless and until the political governments do not do away with the culture of police use for political gains, such IT-led changes and reformations in the police department may not be proved a cracking nut to end the traditional the police station culture.
The police station culture and capacity building of the police force still pose a big challenge for the Punjab government and police hierarchy.