LAHORE: DIG Operations Muhammad Tahir Rai recently instructed all station house officers (SHO) in the city to think of their police stations as their homes, because they were required to stay there at all times other than when they were on patrol.
For some SHOs, that would mean living in flooded rooms, without a toilet or even without a roof.
Lahore has 83 police stations, of which 35 are located in government buildings, seven are ‘model’ police stations with better facilities, and the rest are housed in old buildings with wooden roofs, rented shops and even residential flats.
Police stations at Gujjarpura, Nawab Town, Shadman, Factory Area, Faisal Town, Harbanspura and Shadbagh, among others, lack basic facilities. Harbanspura police station, which previously consisted of a few tents and is now located in a government dispensary that the police occupied some years ago, is located in a low-lying area and is often flooded when it rains.
“Water drips from the ceilings in several rooms. There is a constant danger that case records kept here will be destroyed,” a policeman at the station said.
The Harbanspura SHO said that when the place gets flooded, the policemen have to move outside and wait for Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) teams to arrive and drain the water. “Sometimes we just do it ourselves,” he said.
The Factory Area police station is located in six small rented shops. It too is often flooded after rains. “Large pools of water form in and outside the police station and you have to wade through to go in, which can be especially unpleasant when waste from the sewerage drain on the road gets mixed in with the rainwater,” a policeman at the station told The Express Tribune.
Shadman police station doesn’t even have a working toilet.
And at Gujjarpura police station a few days ago, four police personnel were severely injured when the wooden roof of a room used by the investigation wing collapsed. The roof had been in a state of disrepair for several years, police officials there said.
In his instructions to the SHOs, the DIG for operations said that they must hold congregational Fajr prayers and then address a day-plan to their men at 5am. The SHOs were told to make sure that they are physically present at the police stations from 4pm to 7pm every day. “The foremost responsibility of an SHO is to serve the public and to spend time hearing their complainants,” the DIG said.
Officials at his office said that they had received complaints from several stations that SHOs were absent from duty. “SHOs and policemen sent on judicial duty, in particular, tend not to return to their stations. There have been cases when complete reserves (20 men) were found absent from duty with the connivance of other policemen marking their attendance at the courts,” an official said.
Asked how SHOs could live at police stations where there were no facilities or space, a senior officer of the operations wing said, “It’s their problem, not ours. They have to ensure their presence at their stations at night. Policemen covet jobs in the operations wing, so that’s a price they should be willing to pay.”
An official at the DIG’s office said that these issues would be addressed this year from the police budget.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.