Inspector General Haji Habibur Rehman has directed officers to adopt a more aggressive form of crime-fighting and not to shy away from armed clashes with criminals when required.
In his maiden speech at the Police Darbar at Qila Gujjar Singh, the head of the Punjab Police said that policing as a routine should be replaced with aggressive policing. Addressing Lahore Police DSPs, SHOs and officers in charge of investigations, the IG said that aggressive policing kept criminals on the run. When chasing criminals, if they should come face to face, police should take any measures necessary to arrest them. He said that if an encounter became unavoidable, they should go for it “aggressively”.
Rehman said that the Central Police Office (RPO) would pay for lawyers to represent personnel who ended up in court over an encounter, so police should not let this stop them getting aggressive with criminals. He said that the CPO had recently paid a lawyer Rs300,000 for representing a police officer in such a matter.
The IG stressed that the police must change their public image, which was entirely negative. He said that putting on the police uniform was a responsibility that must be handled with honesty and passion. He said that police personnel should act like public servants, not kings. This was the only way to change the ‘thana culture’ in Punjab.
He said that no corruption would be tolerated and corrupt personnel would be punished, without exception. “If I, as the IG, tell you to spare a person involved in corruption, you should not spare him,” he said.
The IG expressed faith in senior Lahore Police officers. He described Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Additional IG Aslam Tareen as “a waliullah in uniform” who would clamp down on crime in the city. He said that Lahore DIG (Operations) Rai Tahir had been selected after a lot of scrutiny. He said that the CPO was free to transfer police officers as it chose and there was no interference by the Punjab government.
He said that he had recently directed regional police officers and district police officers to work 17 hours a day since that was how long he worked every day. He said police officers must remain accessible to the public at all times.
He said that he had also directed the RPOs and DPOs to personally hear complaints about alleged child sexual abuse, after an incident in Rawalpinid in which a child was raped and police failed to register an FIR for a month.
Asked by a journalist to comment on a rumour that Shehbaz Taseer had been recovered, the IG refused to comment.
The IG also heard complaints from policemen. Constable Naveed Iqbal told the IG that his son Tahir Naveed had been killed under interrogation by Lower Mall police around a year ago, but he was yet to receive justice. He said that police officials were putting pressure on him to drop the case.
Police officer Hafiz Muhammad Tariq said that he had killed one dacoit and injured another in a shootout and was now receiving death threats from their accomplices. He said that the police were not taking any steps to ensure his safety.
The IG requested the police personnel to come to his office with their complaints.
Earlier, addressing a meeting with the senior Lahore Police officials, IG Rehman directed them to improve their performance “drastically” as the current crime rate was too high. He also announced that he was delegating administrative powers to the CCPO so he could take disciplinary action against police officers.
Rehman said that a complete ban on the display of weapons was in place in Lahore, as in the rest of the province, and the police must implement it. He said that all Lahore Police vehicles must be fitted with GPS devices within one month. Mobile Squad SP Muntazir Mehndi had come up with the idea and fitted six Mobile Squad cars with such devices when Tareen previously served as Lahore CCPO, but the initiative was dropped when Ahmad Raza Tahir became the city police chief.
The IG asked the CCPO to monitor the performance of officers through the Special Branch and through a Citizen Feedback System to be introduced in Lahore, and to punish negligent officers.
He said that only female officers should be appointed to reporting rooms at Lahore’s police stations. He said that he would chair a monthly meeting of Lahore police officers to review the city’s crime data.
The meeting was briefed by all superintendents of police (SPs) of the Lahore region about the law and order situation in their divisions. The IG told off two SPs for not preparing proper presentations. He praised City SP Umer Virk and Sadar SP Ather Waheed for taking measures to control crime.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.
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