LAHORE: Around 10,000 police personnel will guard 3,800 registered mosques in the city, including 350 which have been declared highly sensitive, according to a security plan for Ramazan devised at a meeting led by the capital city police officer (CCPO) here on Wednesday.
An assistant sub inspector (ASI) and two constables will guard each of the most sensitive, or Category A, mosques and imam bargahs. Some 400 Category B (sensitive) mosques will be guarded by two constables and a police volunteer each. The remaining mosques, around 3,000 of them, will be guarded by one constable and one volunteer each, the public relations officer to the CCPO told The Express Tribune.
Questions have been asked about how Lahore’s police force can spare such a large number of personnel. Each of the 83 police stations in the city has about 35-40 constables and 3-4 ASIs, and an average of 45 mosques each.
The jurisdiction of Data Darbar police station includes 24 registered and two unregistered mosques. At least two – Data Darbar and Imam Bargah Gamay Shah – have been bombed by terrorists before and are thus in Category A. One of the mosques is a Category B mosque and the rest Category C. The police station has 40 constables and four ASIs. Of these, two ASIs and 27 constables will be required, according to the security plan, to perform guard duty at mosques during the five daily prayers and during taraveeh prayers. That leaves 2 ASIs and 23 constables, about half the police station’s usual strength, to tackle crime.
Traders’ unions and clerics expressed reservations over the plan during a meeting with the DIG for operations and the CCPO on Tuesday, police sources said. Because of a shortage of personnel and outdated weapons, the DIG asked peace committee and welfare societies to help the police maintain security during Ramazan. The SHOs of all police stations in Lahore have been asked to induct volunteers from peace committees in their areas.
Asked to comment on the stretching of resources, a divisional SP for operations said: “Managing the force between security of mosques and fighting regular crime is our headache.”
Another operations officer said: “Ask the government to provide us with more force and we will manage everything according to everyone’s expectations. Until then, we don’t have a choice.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.