LAHORE  - A Senior Patrolling Officer (SPO) of the Motorways Police entered an electronics market in Lahore’s Wahdat Colony last week to pay the monthly installment of his motorbike when two robbers stormed into the shop.

The bandits held up at gunpoint the shop owner, salesmen and the customers and demanded cash and mobile phones. Everyone followed the orders by handing over the belongings to the bandits except Kamran Shahzad, father of two daughters.

The unarmed patrolling officer managed to overpower both the bandits before their third accomplice, who was standing outside the shop, opened straight fire at him. The robbers collected cash and valuables and fled the scene. The officer sustained multiple bullet wounds and was rushed to a hospital but expired on the way. The officer was among four people who were killed during armed robberies in Lahore last week.

More than one dozen persons are killed and several others wounded while resisting armed robberies during the first two weeks of the holy month of Ramazan in different parts of the Punjab province.

There is no let-up in the incidents of armed robberies in the Punjab capital, where thousands of policemen are ‘on guard’ to provide protection to lives and properties of the public. The street crimes and law and order situation is worsening day by day.  Gangsters are looting the motorists, families, and passersby with impunity while the surge in house robberies has also sent a shocking wave among the citizens.

Last week, two armed motorcyclists held up Fayyaz at gunpoint in Faisal Town and snatched away cash bag containing $100,000 from him. The man was coming out of a bank after withdrawing the cash when he was stopped by the bandits near Kotha Pind bus stop in daylight.

Dacoits also shot dead a trader on offering resistance near Bhatta Chowk in the South Cantonment police vicinity. At least 25 armed robberies are taking place in the Punjab capital everyday as the police are unable to smash the gangs of bandits.

Contrary to police claims regarding the arrests of the criminals, the crime data from January to June 2014 shows that incidents of robberies and snatching of cars, motorbikes, cell phones, and other valuables are on the rise with every passing day.

The victims of armed robberies hold police responsible for the worsening law and order situation in Lahore, saying the gangs of criminals and proclaimed offenders are freely roaming in city and depriving innocent citizens of their lives and valuables.

During the previous week, armed bandits struck the provincial capital for more than 200 times successfully and made off with cash, gold ornaments, and other valuables worth Rs900 million. The gunmen also took away 40 cars and no less than 100 motorcycles from different parts of the City, thanks to the police and government for leaving the public at the mercy of the dacoits.

In the Punjab province, killings on resistance during armed robberies are emerging as the most serious threat to pubic safety since the police are unable to smash the gangs of rogue criminals, who are on the loose and striking with impunity. As per police statistics, more than 30 citizens including women and children were murdered by dacoits on putting up resisting in the six months this year in the Punjab province.

Police sources believe that more than 300 robberies including house robberies are taking place everyday in the largest Punjab province. They say that the police are reporting only 25 per cent of the total crimes incidents in order to hide the heinous crime happenings.

They believe the police deliberately hush up armed robberies, which take place in the rural areas and small districts, while the complainants are harassed when they approach the police stations for the registration of such incidents.

More than 97,000 proclaimed offenders (POs) including hardened criminals involved in multiple killings, robberies, and other gun crimes are at large in the province since the police are unable to launch a successful crackdown. Tens of thousands of proclaimed offenders are also on loose in Lahore alone.

The government should take serious measures to downgrade rising crimes rate in the most populated province. Also, the religious leaders should come forward to appeal to the criminals not to strike against innocent citizens, valuing the sanctity of this holy month.