LAHORE: Lahore Police improved the general makeup of police pickets in the provincial metropolis. The objective was to ensure the minimum interruption in traffic flow, to avoid public nuisance and enable the welfare of policemen.
Lahore Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations Ashfaq Ahmad Khan told The Express Tribune that they had decided to transform police pickets from the usual vertical manner to a horizontal style. “In the vertical style of picketing, every passing vehicle had to pass through in a zigzag manner and only one vehicle could pass through at once.”
Initially, every driver crossing the post had to move his vehicle at a snail’s pace. If a vehicle was stopped for checking, a queue formed behind it and this resulted in traffic jams, especially in urban centres, he added. “However, in the horizontal shape, vehicles keep on moving towards their destination and the technique allows police to sideline a vehicle.”
A few days ago, the DIG ordered only Dolphin Squad and Police Response Unit (PRU) to perform snap-checking on roads and asked teams of different police stations to focus on patrolling.
The DIG had been working, for the last few weeks, on improving pickets and snap-checking and updating the standard operating procedures (SOP) in the city.
He had instructed Dolphin Squad SP Bilal Zafar, who also had the charge of SP Mobiles, to improve snaps at all the entry, exit and other important points of the city. He demanded the availability of water coolers, shelter to avoid the heat, fans in the cabins and other facilities.
Three days ago, Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) also announced making functional e-posts three in the city.
Setting up pickets is a police practice considered by many officers as an effective way of fighting crime. However, it has equally been disliked by the public as they deemed these posts as concentration points for police excesses and corruption.
However, for the last few years, police circles had also been expressing reservations over the role and importance of pickets. Former DIG traffic Mobeen Ahmad Shaheed had written an official letter to DIG Operations and asserted that the force should reconsider pickets in the city as these contributed to traffic congestion.
Punjab Police opted for a lenient policy towards picketing after few recurrent incidents of targeted attacks, including the killing of police officers in pickets in Iqbal Town, Faisalabad and other cities, were reported a few years back.
Consistent complaints of corruption, misbehaving and embezzlement had also raised questions on the need for pickets.
Federal Minister seeks advice
A few days ago, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry sought the citizens’ advice, through his twitter account, to improve snap checking procedures. The tweet received public attention as many followers gave practical suggestions.
A twitter user named Mani said that a vehicle inspection system can assist people to get rid of police ‘nakas’. “It can inspect 100 vehicles in one hour. An x-ray generator is already installed to search secret parts of the vehicle and it can be made more useful through little amendments or by the robotic camera.
Another Twitter user named Jibran Faisal commented that scanners, like those used in the USA, can be used but it is very costly. He recommended that the scanners can be implemented on borders but not inside cities.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2019.