High-ranking police officials, including Sindh Inspector General Police Wajid Ali Durrani and Capital City Police Officer Saud Mirza, came under heavy fire during a programme on community policing organised by one of the strongest business communities in the city, the Delhi Mercantile Society, late Monday night.
Although a flattering video presentation on the police force was prepared by the society, replete with a soundtrack sung by the popstar Najam Shiraz, what emerged in the following speeches made the men in black and khaki sitting at the podium shift uneasily in their seats.
The chairman of the Delhi Mercantile Society, Saleem Farooqi, started off by reminding the officials that their community had been the first to offer the police resources. Since 2003, around 14 cars were sent to at least six police stations in the city. “Even now we spend more than Rs100,000 on maintenance and fuel for these vehicles,” he said. Not to be forgotten is helpline ‘15’ that was set up with their help. But Farooqi regretted that because these resources were not being used properly, other potential donors such as the Kathiawari and Sindhi Muslim societies, had initially backed out.
“During the day, the cars we gave to the police are being used to protect banks, while at night, they are being used to patrol outside wedding halls,” added the chairman of the Delhi Cooperative Society, Shamim Firpo.
Firpo reminded the officials that their community had built the first model centre for the police at the Bismillah roundabout for which it had spent Rs1.7 million. “But computers were stolen from there, furniture and ACs broke down,” he said, adding that the community did not mind replacing them, but only if it saw that some good was coming from the effort.
The hardest to hit out at the police was Saeed Shafiq, who is the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). He claimed that the police was using the cars provided by the community to suck up extortion money from small businesses in their area. “Just go to any police station to report a missing identity card, and you will be charged Rs100 for it,” Shafiq said. The KCCI was forced to go on strike recently because the reality is that the business community was facing enormous challenges, including extortion and kidnapping for ransom threats each day. He called on the police to improve investigations and make an effort to end corruption in their ranks.
Then came the newly appointed IG’s turn. He managed to tactfully albeit temporarily change the mood in the room after these speeches by asking everyone to first recite Surah-e-Fateha for one of his fallen officers, Head Constable Naveed.
Then came thanks to the community for providing 14 cars with the reminder that it was not “just about helping us with resources.” He clarified that community policing meant getting involved with the police to improve neighbourhoods. “Members of your community need to give us their time as well. The police can’t work in a vaccum,” he said.
The IG announced that they were forming Community Policing Centres at all police stations in Karachi. Each police station would have at least three centres, each of which would be headed by a sub inspector whose task would be to work along with community members. The centre would have at its disposal five personnel, a police mobile and motorcycle. However, the IG warned against lynching suspects and vigilante justice. “Communities should hand them over to the police and leave [the rest] to us.”
Durrani also took a potshot at the business community for their efforts in helping the police force. “What are these Touchme, Touchme Medicam signboards doing on our police stations?” he asked, quipping that people probably complain that when they go inside the Bombay Light House, they find police officers sitting inside (and not lamp salesmen). “We appreciate your support. But please maintain the dignity and decorum of our work places,” he urged.
The IG also took the opportunity to announce that the Eagle force within the police would be strengthened and in each of the sensitive areas of the city, commando trained personnel with motorcycles would be posted. In each of the city’s zones, 15 such commandoes would be commanded by him personally.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2011.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ