LAHORE - The field officers serving in the Lahore police are assigned an uphill task regarding the arrests of proclaimed offenders (POs) and hardened criminals, who are wanted to the police in multiple killings, kidnapping for ransom, armed robberies, and other incidents of heinous crimes for the last several years.

Lahore police failed to arrest tens of thousands of proclaimed offenders due to multiple factors ranging from lack of resources to incompetence. Crimes experts say they believe the non-arrest of most wanted criminals and proclaimed offenders is the major reason behind the surge in the crimes incidents across the province.

Apart from sub divisional police officers (SDPOs), the station house officers (SHOs) are directed to ensure arrests of the most-wanted criminals by the end of this month or face the music as the department has begun evaluating performance of the policemen on weekly and fortnightly basis.

Last week while presiding over a meeting held to review the crimes situation and police working in Lahore, Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Capt (retired) Muhammad Amin Wains categorically warned the Circle Officers and Station House Officers to improve their working or leave the Lahore police.

The additional-IG made it clear that the cops failed to meet the deadline would not remain on their posts by November 1, 2014. He further said that the concerned officials of CIA police and Anti-Vehicle Lifting Staff (AVLS) would also be held responsible in case the incidents of street crimes soar in their respective jurisdiction.

The city police chief expressed his dissatisfaction over the working of the Lahore police after examining the official statistics related to the crime happenings and the arrests of the criminals. According to one of the participants of the meeting, the DSPs and SHOs were asked to explain one-by-one why they failed to arrest the most wanted criminals.

Many of the officers failed to satisfy the CCPO in the presence of entire police command. Literally, they were left with no other option except to keep mum to save their skins.

DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf, DIG (Investigation) Shahzad Sultan, SP CRO, SP CIA, SP Mobiles and divisional SPs were also present on this occasion.

During the concluding session, CCPO Muhammad Amin Wains told all the field officers that those who failed to achieve the tasks would be thrown out of Lahore district police and energetic and dedicated officers would replace them in early November.

The cops were further told that there was no space in Lahore police for the incompetent, dishonest, and lethargic officers. The police chief also ordered the divisional SPs to identify the corruption-tainted cops to purge the police from such elements.

At least 237 most-wanted criminals (MWC) and more than 90,000 proclaimed offenders are at large in the largest Punjab province as the law enforcing agency had failed to arrest these hardened criminals in 2013. According to the Punjab police “Black Book,” at least 237 most wanted criminals (MWC) are also yet to be captured. The pathetic situation puts a big question mark on the working of the police force.

In 2011, the Punjab police had printed and distributed the second edition of the Black Book-2010 that contained the particulars of 263 most wanted criminals. The criminals whose names are listed in the Black Book are involved in at least three cases of heinous crimes each that include abduction for ransom and dacoity with murder among others. The particulars printed include their photographs with names, fathers’ names, CNIC numbers, identification marks, last known addresses and details of cases they are allegedly involved in. Yet the provincial police badly failed to make a breakthrough.

This is not for the first time that the Lahore police are assigned special tasks and the deadline is set to monitor the policemen’s performance. But the question is whether the new police chief who is struggling to improve Lahore policing will be able to remove the all-powerful SHOs and DSPs.

There are many influential SHOs and DSPs who are retaining key slots for the last several years in Lahore. In the past, a few top police officers failed to take stern disciplinary action against corruption-tainted cops obviously because of their connections with the political elite. Even after proper inquiries, some cops tagged as “black sheep” were removed from their positions but within in a few weeks they had come back with a bang. Since the new CCPO wants to bring the most wanted criminals to justice, the Lahore police had already launched a massive clampdown on the hardened criminals.

Only time will tell how successfully the police capture the most wanted men to downgrade crimes in the provincial capital.