Data collection?: Daily wagers detained, told to come again

Workers say police lured them with promise of work.


Rameez Khan September 13, 2011

LAHORE:


The police rounded up over a hundred workers and then forced them to queue up at an office all day to register their personal information, before releasing them without collecting any information.


Some workers complained that they had been virtually kidnapped, others that they had been made false promises of jobs.

Several said they had tried to leave the Crime Reporting Office (CRO) at the DIG (Investigation)’s office in Qila Gujjar Singh, but were not allowed to.

The men were rounded up in the morning from various locations in Sattukatla, Hanjerwal, Green Town and Chuhng police jurisdictions where daily wagers gather every day looking for work.

This was the first step in a city police campaign to collect the pictures and fingerprints of all daily wage workers in the city after a few cases emerged where they were involved in serious crimes, said senior officers.

Nazar, who is originally from Okara, told The Express Tribune that policemen had told him and other labourers to come to the DIG’s office because an officer needed workers to build a house.

Zulfiqar, who is from Bahawalpur, said he was tossed into a police van without being asked any questions.

“If we were criminals, we wouldn’t be standing around waiting for someone to give us four hundred rupees for a day’s honest labour,” he said.

Once brought to the DIG’s office in Qila Gujjar Singh, they were forced to stand in queues and told to wait.

Many said they had asked to be let go so they could get to work for the day, but been refused.

Sattukatla Sub Inspector Ghiasuddin told The Express Tribune that he had been told to take the labourers to the CRO, where they would be photographed and finger-printed. But late in the day, he said, they had been given forms and told to get the labourers to fill them out.

“They only told us at 5pm so we sent them back and told them to come to the divisional police office on Wednesday to get their forms filled,” he said.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Shuakat Abbas said that he had been told that the labourers were photographed.

He said that the police had decided to collect data on them after a few were found to be involved in various crimes.

He said they had not intended to waste people’s time, only to register them.



Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2011.

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