With the increase in use of motorcycles in targeted killings of policemen, the district police has begun impounding hundreds of motorcycles daily – a move that is highly unpopular with residents.
Initially, the crackdown was aimed at non-registered motorcycles only. However, SHOs have recently expanded the onslaught to registered ones as well, defeating the whole purpose and making the exercise a show of efficiency to their seniors.
Locals say the use of motorcycles is not the reason behind attacks on police, weapons are. Policemen manage to catch people carrying hashish or drugs at check posts, but fail to apprehend people on motorcycles carrying concealed weapons like rifles and pistols.
Irar, a resident of Peshawar, told The Express Tribune his son has been arrested twice – once in Yakatoot and once by Shah Qabool police, following which he was jailed for several hours. “My teenage son is not a terrorist, still they jailed him. He was only released after I paid Rs1,500 to Shah Qabool police,” claimed Israr.
Another local, Saleem Ahmad said he had a registered motorcycle but the police still arrested him and locked him up for four hours. “There is a difference between riding a bike and carrying weapons on a bike. Police do not understand that,” he argued.
“Cars are used across the city to kidnap people from the middle of a crowded market. There is no crackdown against them,” complained Ahmad.
Asfandyar has the same concerns. “They establish checkpoints along main roads and start confiscating motorcycles. They jail you for several hours and take away your phone so you cannot even inform your family,” he said.
An SHO requesting anonymity said their progress was judged by high-ranking officials based on how many vehicles they confiscate daily. “We know motorcycles are the common person’s ride and it is unjust to single them out for crackdowns,” he said, adding they know terrorists have safe houses inside the city and use all types of vehicles. He, however, stressed they had no say in the matter and were bound to obey orders.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2013.