Cherry-picking reports: Is Rawalpindi police manipulating media?

Diary send to media daily by police avoids mention of crimes of serious nature

Shazia Mehboob July 02, 2015
Diary send to media daily by police avoids mention of crimes of serious nature. PHOTO: AFP

RAWALPINDI: The reputation of Rawalpindi Police among residents of the region has for long been poor. Frequent allegations of corruption and incompetence have over time contributed to this repute. Too little is being done on the part of the police to dispel the impression.

The often incomplete and misleading “crime diary” send to the media by the Rawalpindi Division police on a daily-basis further strengthens the image.

The diary and the press releases usually cover incidents of a less serious nature such as arrests made in alleged gambling cases, for selling kites and petrol illegally, and for possession of small quantities of drugs and liquor.

On the other hand, the dairy as well as the press releases completely ignore a mention of crimes of serious nature such as murder, kidnapping, rape, armed robberies and others.

Indeed, hiding crimes of serious nature from the eyes of the media is a poor attempt at managing both, — the crimes as well as the media.

For instance, heinous crimes such as police shooting two brothers dead in New Town, a man stabbed to death in Sadiqabad, an unidentified man’s body recovered from Nullah Leh in Katarian area, a milkman shot dead in Naseerabad, a girl allegedly raped in Civil Lines, a boy kidnapped from Waris Khan and numerous others, made the headlines during the last few months but failed to find a mention in the Rawalpindi police’s dairy as well as their press releases.

The diary is supposed to be a compilation of reports of approximately 150 cases received by the Rawalpindi Police PRO Office from 28 police stations in Rawalpindi division. On an average, nine to 10 crimes of serious nature occur in the region daily.

Moreover, at times, suspects booked for multiple offences are identified with the same first name in separate entries in the press release.

For instance, men arrested for carrying weapons, possessing hashish and found drunk on the same day in separate cases were all identified as Nadeem. This raises questions about veracity of the report.

Another recurring feature in crime diary is recycling. The same diary is send at times the next day by changing the date on top. This is common right after public holidays.

The PRO Office, when contacted, said it happened usually due to technical and unintentional fault on the part of the operator or typist.

Rawalpindi Police Public Relations Officer (PRO) Sub-Inspector Imran Haider when asked was unable to give a satisfactory answer and said, “It does not matter whether heinous crimes are mentioned in the report or not.”

However, he claimed that they send a “balance report” to the media.

Haider, when asked about the procedure involved in compiling and sending the report said that the PRO office received daily crime reports from all police stations in the region and often the number of cases crossed the figure of 150, from which “a balance report is compiled for the media”.

On police corruption, he said the police officials should not be the only people to be blamed because corruption was created by the corrupt system.

Haider said that as soon as the overall system improved police performance would automatically improve too.

“We can take Motorway Police as an example where officials from same Punjab police are working honestly,” he said.

However, another official requesting not to be named said that to avoid media pressure the city managers deny entry of crimes of heinous nature in the crime report and the press releases.

As per an analysis by The Express Tribune, in the Rawalpindi Division crime rate is higher in the jurisdictions of Sadiqabad, Airport, Waris Khan, Taxila, Ratta Amral, New Town and Gujar Khan police stations.

The Rawalpindi SSP Operations, Karamatullah Malik said that they try to ensure entries of all cases in the report and only avoid such cases which were sensitive in nature. “There is no restriction from our side to keep heinous crimes hidden from the diary”, the SSP said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.


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