KARACHI: The Karachi Police is one of the most feared law enforcement agencies in the region. This is not due to its outstanding performance, although it must be given full credit for managing the law and order of one of the most lawless cities in the world.
What makes the Karachi Police really frightful, though, is the black sheep within the department - the undeniably corrupted ones, who do not let off any opportunity to make dirty money for themselves and their bosses. What makes it worse is that they enjoy the patronage of political parties as well as their seniors, which in turn makes them immune to any accountability or scrutiny.
But every now and then, an inquiry is conducted into the nefarious activities of these uniformed criminals. What follows is a façade of disciplinary action, where the officials found to be involved in criminal activities or abetting criminals will face suspension or be transferred to some wayward district. These actions have been found to have limited scope, as the officials often manage to come back to their postings or previous status within a few weeks, after the hullabaloo in the wake of the said report has died down a bit.
Read: Additional IGP Karachi takes notice of police corruption
Recently, one such report was compiled by a deputy inspector general (DIG) of the Sindh Police, Dr Aftab Ahmed Pathan, who currently heads the Rapid Response Force (RRF). The inquiry names over 500 police personnel, ranging from the rank of constables to deputy superintendents of police (DSPs), who are involved in criminal activities or are working for political parties. Most of these uniformed criminals are currently working as SHOs, section officers, incharges of police posts and traffic sergeants.
For the purpose of this inquiry, DIG Pathan has not only conducted investigations himself but has also taken help from other agencies, such as the National Accountability Bureau, the Rangers and the Special Branch Police. The report recommends that these officers be immediately transferred out of their current zones and strict disciplinary action be taken against them after the inquiry has been completed.
They have been accused of patronising narcotics and liquor sellers, abetting criminal activities, selling fake CNICs and passports to illegal immigrants, extorting shopkeepers and mobile phone company booster holders, selling illegal electric connections using police uniforms, land grabbing, street crimes, collecting 'beat' (extortion) from criminals, selling smuggled Iranian oil, selling narcotics, collecting bribes to receive applications from complainants and making an entry in the Roznamcha, operating gambling dens and providing various facilities to inmates in exchange for a sum of money.
Take Police Constable Mehdi of the Special Investigation Unit, for instance. The report claims he is involved in selling narcotics and fake CNICs and passports to Bengali residents.
Head Constable Ameen Baloch of the Mauripur Police Station has been found to be patronising members of Lyari-based gangs. Meanwhile, ASI Rizwan Iqbal, who is posted to the Clifton Police Station is believed to be mixed up with criminal elements and is well connected with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
While a majority of the accused have been found to be guilty of simple crimes such as aiding the narcotics business in return for kickbacks or collecting extortion from ships within their jurisdiction, a considerable number have been found to be involved in crimes of a more serious nature. Among these are the politically affiliated ones who have been found to be passing on sensitive information to the militant wings of these parties. The report found that Police Constable Amjad of the Khokhrapar Police Station was an active worker of the MQM and he now provides information to his brother, Sonu, who is an active worker of the party's student wing. Besides, Constable Nadeem of the Khawaja Ajmer Nagri Police Station was found to be a staunch supporter of the Pakistan Peoples Party and is involved in extortion and selling narcotics in the area.
What lies ahead
Police officials privy to the matter hope this time will be different. They hope the department will finally wake up from its slumber and do away with all the black sheep. But nothing has been done since the report was completed around two months ago. A senior police official who did not wish to be named reasoned that taking action against over 500 police officials just before Ramazan would have taken a toll on the security arrangements.
Read: Raising their voices: Political parties put their weight behind the Rangers
He explained that the department was waiting for the holy month to pass before taking any action, adding that the Sindh IG had sent letters to the DIGs of all the zones and departments with the direction to take strict action against the corrupt officials within their jurisdictions.
South Zone DIG Dr Jameel Ahmed corroborated his version. He added that the DIGs would conduct their own inquiries against the officials named in the report to ensure that there was no victimisation taking place. "If these officials are indeed found guilty, they will be taken to task in accordance with the law," he said.
But with all the bureaucratic red tape and the police department seemingly unwilling to part ways with their big earners, it is unlikely that these uniformed criminals will be taken to task. Even if they are, it is quite probable they will come back to their positions once the uproar has died down. Whatever the case, the likes of Gulbahar DSP Syed Najmul Hassan will continue to conduct bogus voting for the MQM and collect extortion from every shopkeeper in his area.
ASI Ghulam Hussain Sehto of the KIA Police Station arrested seven fake doctors and released them after taking a bribe of Rs2,000 each.
ASI Khalid Hussain, ASI Sakhauddin and PC Mehboob are all posted to the Hub Chowki Police Station. They, however, let a private person, Riaz Sheikh act as the chowki incharge while they carry out goods smuggling.
Sub-Inspector Mehboob Ali who is posted to the British Embassy, sells raw wine on the rear road of 70, Clifton.
ASI Iqbal and Constables Iqbal, Tahir and Tanveer of the Karachi Port Trust Police Station sell government land to Afghanis and Bengalis at Rs10,000 per plot.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2015.