Volunteers will not be posted at pickets this Ramazan like last year because the police received numerous complaints about them asking citizens for bribes, senior police officials said.
Members of the Pakistan Qaumi Razakar Force will only be deployed outside mosques, said Model Town Superintendent of Police (SP) Awais Malik. “Last year they stood at pickets alongside the police. Many citizens complained about being stopped and bothered,” he said.
Tauqeer, a member of the Razakar Force, said that the allegation was offensive, as they volunteered six to eight hours of their day for security duty out of a sense of social responsibility. He said that the police were in charge at pickets and any attempt to harass citizens for bribes stemmed from them.
Over 8,000 police officials are to perform special Ramazan security duty across the city, while 160 mobile squads will patrol sensitive areas. Speaking to The Express Tribune, SPs voiced concern about the effect that the extra security assignments will have on the overall crime rate in the city.
SP Malik said that the police were trying to persuade mosques to hire private guards so that the police would be less stretched. He said that police guards would also be deployed at mosques and imambargahs, especially during Fajr prayers and taraveeh.
The SPs said that they had actually not received the official security plan from the capital city police officer’s (CCPO) office detailing how many personnel are to be deployed at which mosque, though they had received the plan for Ramazan Bazaars. They said that they would be given extra men, but only for deployment at mosques and markets, not for fighting crime.
Headquarters SP Romail Akram said that he did not know how many extra personnel would be given to each division as he had not received the official plan yet, but around 3,000 extra personnel were deployed last year.
Civil Lines SP Umer Saeed said that crime usually surged in the last 15 days of the holy month, so they would ensure regular patrols at markets in the second half of Ramazan. He said that the police had assessed the security requirements at each mosque and categorised them, and all they needed to know now was how many men to deploy.
Earlier on Sunday, the city police chief’s office released a statement saying that CCPO Ahmed Raza Tahir had ordered “complete implementation of the security plan chalked out ... to ensure foolproof law and order during the holy month of Ramazan.”
The police chief directed officials to make sure there are strict security checks at religious places. If any police official was found to have left his post before all worshippers had finished their prayers and left, he would be punished.
“He directed divisional SPs to ensure effective patrolling during the holy month and depute additional force in uniform and in plainclothes outside religious congregations, commercial centres and other crowded places,” said the statement. He directed officials to use metal detectors “at sensitive places” during prayer and taraveeh timings.
The CCPO also directed the traffic police to ensure that traffic flows smoothly on the roads and that motorcycles and vehicles are not parked close to Sunday and Ramazan Bazaars.
“Ahmad Raza Tahir also appealed to religious leaders and citizens to extend their wholehearted cooperation to police to ensure the success of security arrangements in the city during the holy month.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2011.