Worshippers thronging to mosques and Eidgahs pay little attention to policemen keeping watch for the protection and safety of the congregation. Nobody seems to consider that they are sacrificing their religious duty for the sake of official responsibility. Not only that. When all and sundry are with near and dear ones, these lonesome forlorn figures are on their tired legs envying the celebratory crowd gathering the ‘sawab’.
“Some people do come and shake hands but they seldom hug us like they embrace others,” said Muhammad Arif, a police constable who was deployed at a mosque last year on the occasion of Eid.
His Eid holiday was cancelled, like that of hundreds of his colleagues for duty at mosques. This year more than 2,000 additional policemen would be deployed for Eid security. Standing guard outside the mosques in the morning, these police officials would do patrolling duties in their respective areas.
“I would miss my family but somebody has to do this job. Besides, I had already availed my Eid leave a few days ago,” said Arif. He said some of his colleagues also deserved a chance to go and spend Eid days with their families.
Arif and other men in blue feel that people do not like police in general, so they do not even notice them standing outside the mosques. “People just walk past us and most of them don’t even utter a word for Eid greetings,” says another police official. “It is not unless we initiate and pay our greetings to them that they respond,” says Shehzad, an Assistant Sub-inspector. Shehzad and his colleagues say they have gotten used to of the public attitude towards them over the years. However, his colleague Ayub differs, saying “We are also human beings and I hate it when people ignore us completely.”
“It was still better two years ago, when police were suffering from terrorism. I remember once many people specially came to us and greeted Eid. It was the year 2010 or 2009,” says another constable, Shehzad.
Following the year 2009, which was particularly disastrous for police, last year their duty on Eid was relaxed and most of them were allowed to spend Eid with their families in their native towns. They were given vacation in turns, so that a number of personnel could be kept in the city on Eid and following days. “ I had performed duties on Eid so I am going to avail vacation this year,” says Constable Younus Khan, who was going to his native town of Charsadda on Tuesday. With more than half of the city dwellers gone back to their native towns for Eid, the police officials will have to guard their property. “People leave their houses and very few depute security guards, says a police official. He adds the rag-pickers and vendors are a nuisance in most areas, who are liable to strike at untended houses. This increases the burden of duty on the police officials who, happily or compelled, stay back at their duty stations to perform the monotonous ‘ritual’ which, they say, could be lightened up with a little public courtesy.
“What does it take to say Eid-Mubarak,” said constable Arif.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2011.