LAHORE – In an unprecedented move, Punjab Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has begun chasing the robbery and crimes victims to not only get direct feedback from the aggrieved people but also to monitor the working of police.

If you are robbed or if you fall prey to any crime incident in Lahore and you contact the Emergency Police Service (Rescue-15) for help, the Chief Minister’s Special Cell would contact you within the next three days of the happening through an SMS in Urdu.

You will be asked, “Respected, you made a phone call at Rescue-15. The chief minister wants to know what happened after that. Did anyone demand bribe from you or did the police behave gently?”

Of course, this is an excellent exercise initiated by the chief minister to keep a check on the working of police but this is not enough to resolve the genuine grievances of the people in Punjab, otherwise considered as a police state.

Despite such initiatives, the police are still not registering the cases according to the nature of the crime incident. For example, if criminals snatch away a car on gunpoint, the police will register the crime incident as car-theft rather than car-snatching.

Police sources say the cops in Lahore are again adopting the policy of not registering first information reports (FIRs) of street crimes to show that crime rate has not increased. While describing this phenomenon, the sources said the police emergency service was receiving around 100 calls daily, of which more than half were genuine, implying that Lahore police should register about 60 cases of robberies daily but the police were registering only 15 to 20 per cent cases of armed robberies and street crimes.

During the past week, gangsters successfully hit the Punjab capital no less than 250 times, looted families, passers-by and motorists and robbed several residences on gunpoint and escaped after collecting cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth millions of rupees. The police have registered even less than 80 cases, including of car and motorcycle lifting, house and road robberies and street crimes.

During the same period, armed bandits went on the rampage in the Punjab capital and robbed no less than 40 houses on gunpoint. Not enough, at least 25 cars and 43 motorcycles were either stolen or snatched away on gunpoint from different parts of the City during the same period. The police staged fake encounters and shot dead two bandits in different parts of the City during the past week but the gunmen are continuing their looting spree with more brazen strikes.

According to insiders, once the police register a robbery cases, they complete their job and the investigations are shelved once and for all by declaring the cases as untraceable.

According to official statistics, compiled by Punjab police, at least 1,988 cases of dacoity have been reported in the province from January 1 to July 31, of which 252 cases have been declared as untraceable.

Similarly, the police registered 11228 cases of armed robberies out of which no less than 2160 have been declared as untraceable. Believe it or not, at least 4052 cases of vehicle theft, 698 cases of car snatching, and 1958 cases of burglary have also been declared as untraceable in the police record.

According to data collected from different sources, Lahore police registered more than 820 cases of car theft; 2,804 cases of motorbike theft; 290 cases of other vehicles’ theft; 152 cases of car snatching; 475 cases of motorbike snatching; and 45 cases of other vehicles’ snatching during the first seven months of this year.

The CIA police have poorly failed to smash the gangs involved in auto-lifting and street crimes and what to say about the recovery of looted valuables when the City police have failed to resolve the mystery of more than 60 cases of blind murders.

During background interview, police officers revealed that corruption is flourishing in the department while the Chief Minister has not given free hand to the police high-ups as far as the postings and transfers of officers are concerned.

They were of the view that the crimes and law and order situation is worsening with every passing day in Lahore because of the poor performance of the CIA police, a wing of the police supposed to counter organised-crimes like armed robberies, blind murders, and kidnappings for ransom.

The Chief Minister Punjab must ensure merit-based postings and transfers of police officers on key slots and the deserving officers should be replaced with incompetent cops. The CM should also sought explanation from the heads of the Operations, Investigations, and CIA police and they must be held accountable for deteriorating law and order situation in the heart of the Punjab province.