THIS is a matter in those days; the number of public complaints against Punjab Police was increasing day by day. Then IG Punjab issued instructions to all DPOs to conduct seminars and workshops in their respective districts to change the thana (police station) culture. For this noble purpose, it was decided to avail the services of religious scholars, lawyers and journalists. Sheikh Safdar Iqbal was the convener of these seminars in Sargodha. Safdar Iqbal, as a journalist and columnist, had invited me to give a lecture to police officials and officers on the transformation of police station culture.
Addressing such a large police force is an unforgettable event of my life. From constable to inspector level policemen, the DPO conference hall was full and I had to give lectures to the investigating officers, Muharers and police station administrators of 27 police stations on the change of police station culture. About two hundred police officers and officials were present in the hall, duty and ethics was my topic. In the middle of the lecture an old sub-inspector stood up and addressed me saying that he wanted to say something, all eyes of the policemen in the hall were fixed on him.
With trembling lips, he began to tell his painful story. He said that the incidents of theft within the area of his police station were common every day.” Complaints of buffalo theft were being lodged at the police station and the police in the entire district were being discredited due to these incidents of theft. The SHO handed over the complaints of such incidents to this sub-inspector and ordered immediate arrest of the accused. After about 15 days of hard work, he arrested all the accused; two hours after arrest, a call came from an MPA from area who insulted me and ordered me to release accused immediately because they (accused) were his voters.
SHO said that after registering an FIR, the accused should be produced before the court for remand, it will be seen what will happen. The investigating officer said that after receiving the remand, the local MPA lodged complaint to the DPO and I was immediately suspended and ordered to report to the police line. He ended his story with the words, “I have been rewarded for honesty and duty.” After this tragic incident, the investigating officer was completely heartbroken by this system. The harmful element in the police system is political interference. In recent days, the entire Pakistani nation has seen on social and electronic media how Sheikh Omar, the CCPO of Lahore, was humiliated in a meeting of the Standing Committee and he had to join hands to apologize, an MNA was insulting a uniformed senior police officer in National Assembly Standing Committee. The reason for this insulting behaviour was personal grudge, when Sheikh Omar was posted as DPO in the MNA’s constituency; he recovered stolen vehicles from his brother and registered an FIR against his brother.
Sheikh Omar was summoned by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights and this capable and honest officer was ridiculed. Sheikh Omar’s only fault was that he had made a statement about a woman who was raped on the motorway that the woman should have avoided travelling alone. He was criticized from all sides and was disrespected and criticized in various Standing Committees. Since the CCPOs have been deployed, a certain group and certain elements have been active in defaming them with various tactics and tricks. The honest police officer should be allowed to work independently so that the accused of the motorway incident can be arrested.
—The writer is a producer.