Monsoon has almost arrived. When roads are blocked due to knee-deep water at many places and motorists get stuck in traffic jams for hours, it provides an opportunity to criminals to loot motorists and commuters in public buses at will. Criminals have a thorough knowledge of the locations in cities where motorists will be at their weakest. They know the areas patrolled by the police, and which areas will be susceptible to traffic jams due to water pooling on the roads. Police should be available at such traffic jams to deal with criminals.

I suggest following preventative measures against robberies during traffic jams in rains. On noticing the gathering of dark clouds, if you are out of your house, try to get home as soon as possible. This way you could avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam caused by rain. Select a route where there are less chances of water pooling to avoid getting caught in a traffic jam. Both men and women are advised to remove any jewellery and to hide it somewhere in the car. Do not, however, hide jewellery in your purse as robbers might ask you to hand this over too. Before getting into your car, make sure that your valuables, like laptop, briefcase, cellphone, etc., are not visible to people outside your car. Hide them under the car seat or in the dashboard.

After leaving a little amount of money in your wallet or purse, hide your money and all other items such as CNIC, credit card, ATM card, etc., somewhere inside your car. Never keep any of these items in your pockets as criminals sometimes make their victims empty their pockets too. If you get stuck in a traffic jam, then keep all the doors of your car locked and windows rolled up. If you require fresh air, do not roll your window down more than two inches.

If someone knocks at your window, do not slide it down or open the door. If a criminal threatens you, start honking the horn to attract peoples’ attention. Many criminals leave immediately for fear of being caught. If this fails, then remain calm and slide your window down. If a robber asks you to hand over your wallet and cellphone, do so without resistance. Carry an old (discarded) cellphone in your car and give this to the criminal rather than your actual cellphone.

Make sure to keep your cellphone on silent mode in the car under your seat. Criminals do not bother to check the condition of the cellphone as they are often in a hurry. Try to carry duplicate keys of your car at all time as robbers sometimes take away the keys of your car. Keep your FM radio on to find directions so you can adopt routes which are safe to drive during heavy rains.

If you have a licensed pistol or revolver then carry it concealed under your clothes. Under Section 96 and 97 of Pakistan Penal Code one can defend oneself if attacked. Sindh Home Minister, Manzoor Wassan had lifted the restriction on carrying arms on March 12. Factory workers and students suffer the most during rains. Organisations and educational institutions should prepare contingency plans to house their employees. They should also ensure that their in-house canteen remains open. Organisations should also allow their female employees to leave early on noticing the gathering of dark clouds or should arrange for vehicles to drop them at their homes.

SQN LDR (Rtd) S. AUSAF HUSAIN,

Karachi, July 10.