ISLAMABAD - The Wednesday bombing took place in a corner of the main fruit and vegetable market, spread over 25 acres, in I-11 sector of Islamabad.
The bombing occurred shortly after 8 o’clock, the busiest time of the day for the wholesale fruit and vegetable market. According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of people were present inside the premises when the bomb rocked the market.
After the blast, remnants of fruits, shoes, wooden crates and severed body parts were spread everywhere. There was a grief in the air with pools of blood spread far and wide.
The sector I-11, which houses the fruit market, is a thinly populated sector, with some government buildings, including police headquarters. Opposite to the market there exists a large slum, which houses several thousand Afghan refugees.
One side of the Sabzi Mandi touches Rawalpindi’s bus station, Pir Wadhai, hundreds of buses arrive here daily from different cities of the country.
After a wave of suicide attacks during 2007-08, Islamabad has been relatively peaceful, except for an attack on a courthouse last month.
The casualties of Wednesday’s blast make it the deadliest in the capital since the suicide bombing of Marriott Hotel in 2008.
“Police force in the country is run on ad-hoc basis, every Inspector General is appointed on political grounds, so every new police officer makes new experiments, contrary to police rule,” remarked an Islamabad-based senior police officer, while talking to The Nation.
Giving an example, he said the former IG Islamabad Wajid Durrani, had ordered SHO to place containers on roads for security point of view. He said that every area SHO contributed around Rs 400,000 but when Durrani was replaced, the new IG abandoned this system. “Obviously this money was generated from bribes,” he said.
According to him, foot patrol was very effective in combating crime, and by replacing the old system with car patrol, the intelligence gathering of police has become almost zero.
“There are two patrol vehicles in every police station of the capital, and they are given ten liters of petrol every day. It’s the shortage of fuel that they prefer to remain in police stations, as a show piece”, he explained.
Referring to the statement of minister about strength of Islamabad police the officer termed it for the consumption of media.
“Yes, we have more than 10,000 staff, but around 4000 are on VIP duties, 3800 in Security Division, 230 in Special Branch, 650 in Traffic, 2900 in Operations Division and 1200 in Logistics Division,” he said.
These figures were confirmed from other senior officials.
“Think realistically I have total of ten officers in my station; four are deployed on patrolling as they cannot handle office work,” an SHO of the capital told The Nation.
“We have around 300 cases under investigation. How these six officers can handle them”, he asked.
There are around ten major entry and exit points and 58 check posts in different areas of the capital. At every check point two to three sepoys and one officer is deployed. It is a general view that anyone can cross any of the barriers by paying 100-200 rupees.
“We do 12-hour duty under extreme weathers. We are not provided any food or water, with washroom facility,” an ASI deployed at one of the check-posts of Islamabad told The Nation. He was of the view that his highups have no idea of the plight of force. “Government has built this new checkpost, but it does not have any water, electricity or any other facility, it is like an oven,” he said pointing towards a newly built concrete room.
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce’s Police liaison Committee Chairman, Saif Ur Rehman Khan, while talking to this scribe to the police inability to combat terrorism. “Police even don’t know what to do, in case of any blast or emergency,” Rehman said.
Giving an example of ignorance of topnotch bosses, he said that three years back the sabzi mandi shopkeepers had paid 35 million rupees to CDA to build a wall around market, but it was never built. He was of the opinion that Wednesday’s catastrophe could have been avoided, had CDA built the outer wall.