The Station House Officer (SHO) is the most powerful post in the police hierarchy. One thing that sets him apart from all his peers and seniors is that he alone has the authority to register First Information Reports, commonly known as the FIRs.
But what happens when these all-powerful police station chiefs get involved in criminal activities themselves? It sets in motion a recipe for disaster - one that is all too apparent in Karachi's police force today.
An internal inquiry conducted by the Sindh police department has identified more than 50 SHOs involved in cases of crime. The report prepared by the then deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Sindh Police's Rapid Response Force (RRF), Dr Aftab Ahmed Pathan, declared the 55 police station chiefs unfit for the post because of their patchy service record.
The inquiry, which was conducted on the directives of the Sindh IG, revealed that 24 of the corrupt SHOs are currently posted in Zone East of Karachi, followed by 11 in Zone South and 20 in Zone West and Central. The inquiry report seems to be based on the scrutiny of the service book. In most cases, it appears that the service book has been tampered with, since although the report quotes the punishment, it fails to give the crime for which the punishment was enforced.
Interestingly, most of these officers have earlier been suspended, demoted and even dismissed from service due to their criminal activities. They are, however, still enjoying the posts of the SHOs. Nearly a dozen of them also have links with political parties and members of the Lyari-based gangs and have also been accused of sheltering criminals affiliated with the political parties and being involved in crimes such as target killings, extortion, robberies and land grabbing.
The report names one SHO in particular - Naveed Nasir, who is an active supporter of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. While he was posted as the Gulistan-e-Jauhar SHO, he took part in a bank robbery committed by Fahim alias Buddha and Ubaid alias K-2, both suspected target killers affiliated with the party's Liaquatabad Sector.
Read: Corruption charges: Two policemen dismissed, 14 punished
Nasir was also accused of smuggling prohibited and illegal materials while he was posted as the Saeedabad police post incharge.
Similarly, Ismail Lashari, the former Sohrab Goth SHO, has been punished at least 16 times for his criminal activities. The punishments have included being discharged from service, demotion, suspension and forfeiture of approved service for five years.
Not far behind is Ishaq Lashari, who has been punished 11 times by senior officials. The report is, however, vague on what crimes he was involved in. Then there is Rana Haseeb, the SHO of SITE Police Station. The inquiry report suspects someone has tampered with his official record as three pages of the service book are missing. Another interesting case is that of Azam Khan, who is the SHO of Napier Police Station. This police officer was punished for performing his duties in plain clothes. Khan was also found to have links with notorious gangsters such as Rehman Dacoit and Arshad Pappu.
The SHOs, however, seemed unhappy with the report. "All these things will happen when we (SHOs) are appointed after the payment of hefty bribes," said one of the SHOs whose name is mentioned in the report.
Read: Corrupt cops: ASI terminated for misusing authority
"Every time, it is the SHOs who are punished, but no one even questions those senior officers who took the money for their postings. Who forced us to get involved in these criminal activities?" he questioned rhetorically. The SHO believed that the senior officers were more to blame for the corruption and criminal activities.
The SHO claimed that such reports were merely a way for the senior officials to make more money. "I was recently interviewed for an SHO posting but was rejected on the basis of my links with narcotics sellers," he said. "I know I will now have to pay double the money to get posted anywhere."
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2015.