KARACHI: Muhammad Asif was waiting at Kala Pull for a friend when some men snatched his car at gunpoint. He went to the Mehmoodabad police station to register the case.
“The Mehmoodabad police told me to go to the Defence police station, saying that the bridge fell in that jurisdiction,” Asif told The Express Tribune. He went to the Defence police station. They told him to go to back to the Mehmoodabad police or try the Cantt Railway police station. “I went to the railway police but they said they had nothing to do with the area around the bridge.”
Thus, none of the three police stations in close proximity takes responsibility for the area around Kala Pull and underneath it. The railway police argue that just because railway tracks run under the bridge doesn’t mean the strip falls in their jurisdiction. As the bridge falls on the border of the jurisdictions of the DHA and Mehmoodabad police stations, they throw up their hands.
To complicate matters, as Kala Pull marks the entry point to DHA and cantonment areas, sometimes the Cantonment police jump in. All of this suits criminals beautifully. In fact, none of these three police stations have registered a single case from Kala Pull in January, February and March. Around March 5, the Defence police station received complaints of a Honda car and a Suzuki being stolen but they did not register FIRs, saying that Kala Pull didn’t concern them. Another victim, Jibran Khan, a resident of Akhtar Colony, met the same fate.
“I have been running between the three police stations for the last three days and no one is ready to lodge an FIR,” he told The Express Tribune. Khan is a transporter who rents out his Suzuki van. He parked his vehicle under Kala Pull and went to a nearby market with a customer, who wanted to buy some furniture and transport it home. When Khan returned from the market, his van was missing. “Every time I go to the police stations, they just laugh in my face,” he said. Crime is thick under the bridge and in the nearby market.
“Robbers and dacoits operate openly here,” said Jamshed Gulzar, who runs a general store in the area. “The police don’t bother with them at all.” For their part, the Defence policemen use the official map as back-up. “Look at the map, we have been told by the higher authorities that we have to cover the area that falls on the right side of the bridge,” said Qadir Sayal, who was on duty. “Because of the high crime rate, if the authorities allowed it, we would have set up a checkpoint.”
For their part, the Mehmoodabad police says their jurisdiction ends at the bridge and doesn’t include it. “We have nothing to do with the crimes committed under or over the bridge,” said SHO Saeed. The official map is ambiguous – the bridge is shown as lying on the border between Mehmoodabad and Defence. When The Express Tribune contacted the chief of police, he said that he didn’t know and as he was busy, it would be best to contact the area police stations.
A testament to the crime rate is a direction from the Sindh High Court in February for the DHA authorities to install a gate at the entrance of DHA Phase I to help reduce crimes near Kala Pull. A policeman from one of the stations, who declined to be named, said that they didn’t register cases because that would require work. “But when it comes to taking a bribe, both Defence and Mehmoodabad police officials own the bridge.”