Thirsty, hungry and boiling under the midsummer sun, it takes a special something to be a policeman deployed at one of the city’s many checkpoints. It also takes proper facilities to keep their spirits up.
But most police stations in the city seem unconcerned about keeping checkpoint cops on their feet, or in good health. Except for those working in the jurisdiction of Kohsar Police Station, policemen at pickets in other parts of the city complained that they were not given enough food for Sehar or Iftar by their respective police stations.
The police’s central wireless control was also bombarded by staffers’ complaints about long duty hours, with many pleading to the high command to consider relaxing duty timings during Ramazan. “It is near impossible to be vigilant for 12 straight hours on empty stomachs in such hot and humid conditions,” said a constable who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal.
The fasting cop was visibly suffering from lack of body fluid as he peered into the traffic moving through the checkpoint in the Margalla Police Station area. When asked if the ration he was getting for his Iftar was sufficient, he smiled and said, “There is no harm in spending out of your own pocket, especially during the holy month.”
The policemen at pickets near Aabpara have it the worst. Some policemen complained of only being given a few dates and a soft drink for Iftar. “After fasting for 12 hours, all you get is a couple of dates and juice to stand on guard for the rest of the night,” said a police constable. However, some of his colleagues said things were not as bad.
They said the policeman forgot to account for one samosa each, which is also part of the package.
The constable said he lodged a complaint with his police station’s registrar, but to no avail.
Only the Kohsar Police Station is providing a meal to its officials at checkpoints along with Sehar and Iftar, but not because they are better funded. An officer at Kohsar Police Station said every policeman is contributing to a meal fund for those manning the checkpoints. “It’s the toughest job out there,” he said.
The other police stations are relying only on the funds given to them by the police headquarters. A source at the headquarters said Inspector General of Police (IGP) Bani Amin has set aside Rs0.5 million rupees from the budget to be set aside for policemen’s Sehar and Iftar.
“This amount is sufficient to provide reasonable meals,” the official said, adding that he fears the budget is being mismanaged by the police stations.
“It is very easy working sitting in air-conditioned offices and travelling in air-conditioned cars. Let the higher-ups stand here under the sun for 30 minutes, they would realise its insanity,” said an Aabpara police official who looked less interested in passing cars and more in finding some shade at midday.
Duty hours reduced
To address the officials’ increasing concern over lengthy duty hours, the IGP added 400 cops to the Operations Division on Tuesday. A police spokesperson said duty hours for police officials deployed at checkpoints were reduced from 12 hours to eight during Ramazan. The police chief also directed all relevant police officers to ensure timely provision of Sehar and Iftar to the policemen on check post duty.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.