The corrupt police walas, shall we be thankful?
As a nation we proudly honor our army martyrs by conferring awards like Nishan-e-Haider, Hilal-e-Jurrat, Sitara-i-Jurrat, Tamgha-e-Jurrat, Sitara-e-Bisalat, Tamgha-e-Bisalat, Tamgha-i-Khidmat, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz; although police martyrs seldom receives any of them. In fact, the current reward ratio to police is about 1:20,000.
There are monetary awards for police martyrs, including the free medical and educational support. But only the grandsons of these martyrs are found revolving around account offices to get the remaining painful awards we offer these valiant sons of our soil. Their minimum working hours are 20 a day and the average sickness leave comes after a month. They have no CMH like police hospitals and no APS like PPS.
Often, they are treated like animals and criminals in courts and they wander from one power circle to another to save jobs that pay them little more than Rs. 35,000 a month, or the equivalent to 350 U.S. dollars. Even so, these servants never complain. Like our doctors, they never go on strike. They never march for an increment in salaries. And they never deny being posted in far-flung areas. Public holidays are their must-duty days and their children seldom see them on Eid, Pakistan Day, Independence Day, Moharram, Defence Day or other holidays.
They sleep in police station corridors sans fans and air conditioners and eat from their own pockets as they are not deemed worthy enough to have reasonable foodstuffs from the national wealth. And they are terribly corrupt. They take money from complainants and respondents alike to proceed with their cases. They take money from the inmates and from those who come to police stations to file any complaints. They seldom pay fares for public transportation and escape by saying “mulazam.” Bus conductors rightly yell at them by saying “you are paid for your service, give fare or get down.” These corrupt police walas are so mean that many times they ask complainants to purchase a few papers for them although they are paid for their service. They pressure and force complainants and defenders to give them money because they supposedly never received their sanctioned investigation funds.
A member of disciplined force expects discipline in the department, too, but the department has beautifully designed a vicious circle of promotion. Like a rally race, when they complete one course mandatory for promotion, they are told the policy has been revised and they need to do two more to stand in the promotion queue. The promotion procedure from constable to inspector is not defined, although a letter recently was issued to revoke the upper-class course and make it mandatory to do either intelligence, operation or investigation as criteria for promotion in the rank of inspector. They can be transferred/posted from one unit to another inside the department without any planning.
Promises are made but never met. A recent example is Dolphin Force, which copied the Turkish model of uniforms and motorbikes but not facilities. It was announced that those who join this force would receive an additional 8-10 thousand as an allowance. But once a few poor and ambitious guys jumped in, the policy was reportedly revised and recruits must continue working on the same salary. The fighting force in police stations receive 30K as compared to a few reserve corporals in CTD who get 80K. This creates despondency among police officers.
The life of a common man become miserable when the foundation of law and order becomes worse. The strong get stronger and police act as aggressors for poor and mediator for the strong. There are a myriad of issues confronting police officers: the first and foremost is the growing estrangement between police and public. Responsibility lies in oversight. The corrupt police walas, as illustrated, are highly demotivated and their quantity of force is so less that there is no time left to smile and stare. After being on duty 20 hours, none has the sufficient energy or the temperament to be polite and welcoming. So each complainant presents a new and unwelcome problem, often a new load on their personal pockets that will lead to more time tacked onto their already overburdened schedules.
People meet them at highway checkpoints most often. A permanent image is built there in the eyes and minds of the public. Because these black wearers have no scanners, tools and sniffer dogs to check the vehicles for ammunition and narcotics, they are left to pick and choose, board out a few and excuse a few others because they are not ordinary Pakistanis. Naturally, these corrupt police walas make money in these instances. They feed their empty bellies with good food and drink, the only possible luxury at the dangerous duty spot. But clearly understand this; all of them are doing jobs they simply were not designed to do.
When we established a National Highway Patrolling Police a few years ago, it was meant to perform this important task on roads and spare the work force for maintaining peace, law and order. We created beautiful police stations for them and bought the latest vehicles, too. But without proper monitoring, patrolling has become a burden. Yes, the fit guys in Patrolling Police then have big bellies now. Our patrolling stations do everything except patrolling and the overburdened police station workforce is doing what a well-paid idle patrolling force is not.
Even with all this, this force is still working toward meeting every possible potential. By being thankful to them, some very intelligent officers have raised motivational level and work commitment. A few years ago, Khurram Shah, who was a DPO in Kasur, did just that; now in the same district Ali Nasir Rizvi, another DPO, is in the news. In just one year he took major steps to change the police and policing. Rizvi created a special police patrolling force for the district. It is comprised of the constables of good repute who help lessen the burden on police station workforce. A homicide unit for cases that require in-depth investigations was established and a few intelligent officers were selected to man it.
An excellent network of private spies was developed within a crime-fighting unit. Trackers were installed in police vehicles and a new district control room monitors the movement of police vehicles to ensure they are being used for official purposes. Rizvi also has used social media to connect police to the people — giving them more immediate access. A Facebook page and website were created for this laudable purpose. This forward-looking officer extended his own duty time from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m., setting an example for his team to work well beyond ordinary limitations. Complaint boxes were installed in front of every police station and keys to each were given to a trusted person from his own office to visit each police station, open the lock and get the complaints directly to the table of DPO.
A practice of daily open court in district headquarters — and monthly in every police station — was followed so that the grievances of the people could be addressed at the spot. A mobile complaint collector app was launched and an SMS number was advertised to encourage people to reporting crimes and to be heard. Agreements between police, schools, hospitals, grocery stores and picnic spots were enacted to facilitate the families of this successful workforce. The workforce responded to the carrot and the stick by arresting 3,000 proclaim offenders and 1,350 court absconders in just one year.
A huge amount of Rs. 4 crore was recovered by arresting 220 members of 70 criminal gangs. Eighty-seven hardcore criminals were killed in encounters with police and the crime rate dropped heavily from eight snatch-and-kill incidents in 2015 to one (still one too many) in 2016. Year over year, there were 58 dacoities in 2015, compared to 30 in 2016; 241 robberies have fallen to 140, 118 vehicle thefts are down to 49 and 160 carjacking have been reduced to 97 this year.
Yes, this all was done by the same corrupt police walas. So let’s ask some tough questions: — Is it really so difficult to make promotion criteria transparent and well defined? — When are we going to demand the best use of our human resources by appointing those we have sent abroad to learn the latest techniques of crime eradication and specialized equipment handling as master trainers for police station work force? — How difficult is it to let the working organs benefit from knowledge already within the department? — When will the workforce be told about the new cybercrime law and women protection bill 2016? — How about a refresher course for in-service police officers to keep them updated and ready for the service we expect from them? — Can we build the capacity of the officers in each field (intelligence, investigation and operation) simply with renewed zest and zealous?
When the other 34 districts in Punjab (except Lahore) will witness a separate investigation and operational force in letter and spirit? I expect an answer from the courageous and honest IG Punjab Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera and hardworking and passionate Chief Minister Punjab, Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif. Now is the right time to address the real issues in our police force.
Shall we be thankful to these corrupt police walas?
Yes, we shall, especially as we thankfully and respectfully recognize the loss of 678 brave police personnel in last six years.
This article was published in DNA Magazine of Pakistan Today on Sunday, October, 23, 2016.