For most, it’s a special occasion to be shared with family and friends. But for those employed in emergency and security services, Eid is one of the toughest working days of the year.
For police, the busy period starts at 4pm on the day before Eid, when late-night shoppers throng markets and bazaars, said a divisional SP. The roads get progressively busier as young people come out to celebrate chand raat, often staying out until 3-4am. Policemen then have to prepare for security duty at mosques and Eidgahs starting at 6am. There is little time for sleep.
This year, said the divisional SP, police had also been ordered to set up extra pickets at night in view of security duties. Operations DIG Muhammad Tahir Rai has also ordered SPs across the province to crack down on motorcyclists doing wheelies, one of the main causes of casualties during the Eid holidays.
Abdul Wahid, a constable at Civil Lines police station, said though his family lived in Lahore, he would not be able to offer Eid prayers with them. “I will go home the day after Eid to see my family,” he said.
Constable Muhammad Azmat, also of Civil Lines police, said that he would not be able to visit his family in Faisalabad until he goes on leave a few days after Eid.
Another police official said that many city residents go to their hometowns for Eid, leaving their properties unguarded. “Very few have security guards. They are at risk from vendors and scavengers who are liable to strike at untended houses. This increases the burden of duty on police officials,” he said.
Policemen accept that working on Eid is an essential part of their job, but it still affects their personal lives. “My family is annoyed that I am away from them on Eid, but it’s the nature of the job and I can’t do anything about it,” said Rashid Ali, a constable at Sattukatla police station.
“It would be nice to be able to spend time with my family on Eid, but my job is to protect people, and that is virtuous work, so I don’t have any regrets,” said Constable Rana Yasir of Gulberg police station, who was on duty at Liberty Market the day before Eid.
“There’s no enjoyment or sitting back for senior officials either,” said Cantt SP Umar Cheema, as junior police officials, “especially the local ones,” often tried to slip away from their place of duty after Eid prayers.
“We have to keep an eye on them and remain on patrol in the area,” he said. “The policemen know that they will not get holidays, but their children and other family members often pressure them to bunk.”
The Eid holidays are also one of the busiest periods of the year in terms of accidents. Jam Sajjad, spokesman for Rescue 1122, said the number of motorcycle accidents soared on chaand raat, while there was also usually a large number of fatalities in accidents on highways. Rescue 1122 is also currently engaged in flood relief activities in southern Punjab.
He said that most of the rescuers in Lahore were from other cities and would work through the Eid holidays. “The satisfaction of helping people overshadows the sadness of not getting to spend time with family. The gratitude and respect we get from people while on duty is compensates for the time we have to spend away from family,” Sajjad said.
The leaves of the city police and traffic police have been cancelled. Chief Traffic Officer Sohail Chaudhry said that 2,500 traffic wardens would be on duty during the three Eid holidays. He urged members of the public to treat wardens with more respect and to wish them a happy Eid.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2013.