LAHORE –The police in the largest Punjab province have declared at least 20, 273 crimes cases as untraceable, suggesting that the investigations into the cases of heinous crimes have been shelved, once and for all. Thus, these cases cannot be traced unless a miracle happens.

Last year, the police had failed to trace at least 19821 cases of heinous crimes killings, abductions for ransom, robberies, auto-lifting, and cattle-theft.

According to the police record, at least 306,585 crimes cases have been reported this from in the province this year so far – from January to September 2012. More than 390 cases of dacoity, 3400 of robberies, 2859 of burglary, 348 of theft (under section 382/PPC), 6209 of motor-vehicle theft, 1115 of motor vehicle snatching (at gunpoint), and 298 of cattle-theft have been declared untraceable.

Not enough, the police have also admitted that no less than 270 cases of murder, 339 of attempt murder, 85 of hurt, 154 of kidnappings, 12 of kidnappings for ransom, 17 of rape and two cases of gang-rape reported across the province could not be traced yet.

This year till September, the police reported 115 cases of kidnapping for ransom out of which 17 were cancelled, 71 were challaned, 12 declared untraceable and 15 others are under investigations. Lat year, the police had reported 204 cases of kidnapping for ransom out of which only two cases had been declared untraceable.

What to say about the unregistered cases of crimes which took place in different parts of the province but could not be reported due to one or another reason, when the law enforcement agency has publicly admitted its poor performance in dealing with cases of heinous crimes.

The conviction rate has also put a big question mark on the working of the Investigation Wing of the law enforcement agency. According to police, at least 306, 585 cases of crimes of various natures have been registered this year till September while only the accused in only 48658 cases have been convicted and 44, 395 were acquitted during the corresponding period. The prosecution rate deceased considerable is compared with the same period last year when the accused in 49761 cases had been convicted.

According to the police sources, some 950,000 accused declared as Proclaimed Offenders in different cases are still at large in the Punjab. More than 50,000 POs are wanted in various criminal cases only in Lahore.

On the other hand, according to official figures, the police have killed no less than 278 alleged criminals in staged encounters during this year (from January to September) while last year the police had eliminated 108 ‘gangsters; in fake encounters.

Police sources said that the ratio of fake and staged ‘shootout’ have swelled to an alarming level in the Punjab where 309 armed encounters between the police and the gangsters have been reported this year against the 168 of previous year.

As the cases of killings, abductions, robberies and other heinous crimes are rapidly increasing in the province, the police are ‘eliminating’ the criminals more aggressively. However, there is no let-up in the incidents of heinous crimes despite massive crackdown against the hardened criminals.

Last week, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Muhammad Habib-u-Rehman presided over the Regional Police Officers conference at the Central Police Office and reviewed the over all crimes rate. The police officers briefed the IGP about the crime situation in their respective areas of responsibility.

The police hierarchy decided in the conference that complete challans of all pending cases of terrorism, on priority basis, must be presented before the courts so that the culprits could be convicted. Legal experts believe that most of the accused are acquitted from the courts due to poor investigations as the investigators fail to provide evidences against them due to one or another reason. However, police investigators argue that they are overburdened. In a province, where more than 306,585 crimes cases have been registered so far this year, the law enforcement agency is relying on typical methods of investigations.

According to legal experts, most of the police investigators fail to submit evidences against the accused particularly in robbery, kidnapping and dacoity cases. The police only rely on torture methods to force the accused to confess the crimes, no matter he did it or not. Ultimately, the accused are acquitted from the courts.

The above-mentioned poor performance of the police investigators should be more than an eye-opener for Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, who claims to change the typical Thana culture in the province, otherwise a known as police state.