KARACHI: A head constable has been suspended and action is also likely to be taken against an ASI on charges of taking bribes from commuters on Sharae Faisal. SP Saddar Javed Akbar Riaz made a statement to this effect after the Express News team aired footage of a number of policemen taking money from people near the FTC building on Sunday.
After the attack on the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) building, a large number of police officials were deployed at check-posts on Sharae Faisal to provide additional security in the area. However, a number of policemen were spotted taking bribes from commuters while “checking” for registration papers. It was reported that even when the papers for motorcycles and cars were in order, the policemen threatened to register fake cases if they didn’t pay the bribe. It was also reported that the police were demanding Rs40 to Rs50 from regular motorcyclists, Rs100 to Rs500 from those involved in pillion riding and Rs500 to Rs1,000 from car drivers.
“When I was coming from Sharae Faisal, I was also stopped by the police for checking,” a commuter told the Express team. “They took Rs100 from me. When the Sindh government announced that measures need to be taken to provide security, it did not mean that the police harassed innocent people,” he said.
People started calling the Express News office to register their complaints against the police with the media, following which a team reached the scene and caught policemen taking bribes on camera.
“It [bribery] has become normal in Karachi and poor people are the ones who have to bear the brunt of it,” said CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy. “The common person, who no one listens to, is forced to give bribes out of fear. The important people easily get away by informing the police of their names or ranks or designations. It is the sad truth.”
While Chinoy agreed that such incidents should not take place and that people should be protected against such crimes, he added that the problem went much deeper. “The low-ranking policemen need to be [empowered]. They are an oppressed class. They also suffer from inflation. Their salaries need to be increased to the level of the motorway police so that their situation becomes better. This needs to be done along with making the situation better for the [public],” he said. “We are not approving of bribery, but we need to take steps to fix the situation in the long run. [Things cannot be fixed] just by beating people.”
Apart from Saddar, bribery was also reported from Jamshed Town, after which District Police Officer Jamshed Town Amir Farooqi said that he would suspend all policemen found guilty. He said that he had seen the footage being aired on television and would suspend all policemen in his jurisdiction if the evidence supported their involvement in accepting bribes.
Home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza took notice of the reports and directed CCPO Karachi Fayyaz Leghari to investigate the matter.
“Such black sheep in the police are responsible for maligning the reputation of the entire department,” said Mirza, adding that such people can never be forgiven.
During initial investigations, head constable Mehboob was suspended from service while ASI Sarfaraz is facing charges of corruption. In his statement, Mehboob admitted to taking a bribe, after which the Saddar Town police directed that action be taken against him.
Published in The Express Tribune November 22nd, 2010.
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