A group of robbers clad in Punjab Highway Patrol (PHP) uniforms looted Rs16.5 million worth of gold from seven jewellery shops in Chowk Pindori on Kallar Syedan Road in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
It is the second time that robbers have used PHP uniforms, leading to fierce criticism of the PHP department by locals, after which PHP Rawalpindi Range SP Shahida Kausar suspended five officials patrolling the area at the time of the robbery.
“A departmental inquiry against the officials will also be held for showing negligence during their duty hours,” Kausar said.
Those who were suspended include ASI Wajid Ali and constables Amir Ishaq, Mumtaz Hussain, Muhammad Mubin and Khurram Shehzad.
Muhammad Aslam, a jeweller, said a group of 20 to 25 men in PHP uniforms arrived at the market in official vehicles with police sirens wailing at 1am and ordered the three security guards to go to one of their vehicles as their boss wanted to talk to them about security issues in the area.
“As the guards got near the vehicle, they were overpowered and tied to a tree by the robbers, who then started looting shops”.
The robbers remained in the market for more than an hour, Aslam said.
A case on the application of Sheikh Imtiaz, whose shop was also looted, was registered by the Kallar Syedan police.
Kahuta Circle ASP Arif Shebaz confirmed the incident, added “it’s not true that they were wearing uniforms,” he said, claiming that only the two robbers who told the security guards that their boss was calling them to a vehicle were in uniform.
He said the robbers arrived in two cars, including one van. The robbers used cutting torches to break the shutter locks of seven shops and then opened the safes, he added.
Shahbaz said the PHP patrolling team, which is normally present in the area, was not nearby at the time of the incident. “The police took the three guards into custody for interrogation,” he said.
The jewellers, on the other hand, held a protest demonstration against the police. They blocked the main road and chanted slogans against the police, demanding immediate arrest of the robbers.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2013.
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