LAHORE: A senior superintendent of police (SSP) has concluded an inquiry against some officials of Badamibagh police station whom a price control magistrate had accused of restraining him from imposing fine against shopkeepers involved in profiteering.
SSP Discipline Ibadat Nisar held two rounds of investigation over the magistrate’s allegation that the police officials kept him hostage to restrain him from imposing fine on shopkeepers who had allegedly paid bribe.
During the inquiry proceedings, Magistrate Rana Liaqat Ali submitted documents related to the incident.
He told the SSP that Head Constable Shahid Yousaf not only forced him and his staff to release the shopkeepers but also took bribe from them in front of him. He alleged that the police official had refused to register an FIR against two shopkeepers who wished to face a case rather than paying fine.
The head constable contended that the magistrate did not give the police station staff any complaint for registration of FIR against the shopkeepers.
At this, the magistrate presented a complaint which, he said, he had written for registration of the FIR. The complaint reportedly had been received by police officials and had the stamp of that police station but the head constable had refused to proceed on its basis and allegedly thrown it away, the magistrate claimed.
After examining all relevant documents, the SSP summoned Head Constable Yousaf’s personnel file and concluded the inquiry.
CCPO Zulifqar Hameed assigned the inquiry to the SSP discipline when the incident came into his notice a couple of days earlier.
The police officials had allegedly threatened magistrate of dire consequences and restrained him from imposing fine on shopkeepers found selling products on exorbitant rates.
The price control magistrate was reportedly kept hostage at the police station for over an hour.
The magistrate took three shopkeepers to the police station and ordered six others to report there themselves.
Two of the nine shopkeepers refused to pay fine and said they were ready to face legal proceedings, while the rest were ready to pay the penalty for selling products at high prices.
Sources said that the magistrate filled prosecution documents against the two shopkeepers who wished to face legal proceedings, and requested the police to initiate action against them. However, Head Constable Yousaf refused to launch legal proceedings against them.
The sources claimed that arguments were exchanged between police officials and the magistrate over imposition of fines. Finally the police officials released all the shopkeepers.
The sources said some police officials are involved in receiving monthly extortion from some traders and allowing them to flout the rules regarding lockdown and prices. They said a scuffle also took place a few days back between some traders and police officials.
“How can you people release the shopkeepers who have been called here to pay the fine for selling products on high rates,” the magistrate reportedly asked the officials.
“The shopkeepers were involved in profiteering and the government’s machinery will work against them,” he added. The sources said the police officials remained adamant in opposing imposition of the fine.
Meanwhile, the magistrate contacted the DC office. After the intervention of the control room the cops agreed to impose fine against two shopkeepers.
The head constable concerned denied the allegations against the police officials but confirmed the release of the shopkeepers.
In another incident, the Factory Area police registered an FIR against four police officials named Amir Liaquat, Hassan Raza, Tahir Ali and Rafaqat Ali on May 2 on charges of receiving bribe from traders of Ghazi Road. The shopkeepers who paid bribe were allowed to open their shops while others were barred from doing so during the lockdown.
Some traders, who were not being given permission to open their shops, caught the police officials abetting the violators of the lockdown and called the SHO on the spot. After the higher officers intervened, the FIR was registered against the police officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2020.