LAHORE - Lahore DIG (Operations) Waqas Nazir last week reshuffled station house officers in almost all police stations of Lahore. In the latest reshuffle, inspector-rank officers have been posted as SHOs in the city in order to replace the sub-inspector rank SHOs.

These transfers and postings were the third largest reshuffle in the city police department during the last couple of months. The police department had transferred all the SHOs of Lahore in July and then in September, last year.

Although the police department claims that all the postings and transfers are made purely on merit yet many officers are given key postings only on someone’s recommendations.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer BA Nasir last week urged the newly posted SHOs to play their due role in fighting crime by using professional skills. The CCPO while addressing the SHOs at Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh said that they should work hard with honesty and commitment.

The CCPO also warned the SHOs that the complaints about brine or corruption would not be tolerated in future. He also appealed to the field officers not to accept any kind of pressure and ensure implementation of the law across the board. He also directed the SHOs to aggressively fight against criminal dens.

The CCPO said the behavioral change is the key to success for better public service. Therefore, the new SHOs should ensure good attitude towards citizens and provide justice to the victims of crime without being influenced by any kind of offer or pressure.

In this Punjab province, station house officers and circle officers are posted mostly on the “request” of MNAs, ministers, and powerful individuals. Like the previous regimes, the powerful parliamentarians are now virtually running the affairs of the Punjab Police department. The DPOs and RPOs are being appointed by the provincial hierarchy while DSPs and SHOs are posted on the requests of ministers and influential politicians.

Corruption is rampant in the police department because of such transfers and postings policy. The Lahore police department last week approved posting and transfer of 70 inspectors as station house officers in different police stations of the metropolis.

Many corruption-tainted officers are among those given new assignments under the new government in Punjab. As a matter of fact, many SHOs got important positions by using their political connections. Interestingly, all new SHOs are inspector-rank officers and they have been serving as SHOs in Lahore for the last several years.

The police stations having highest crime rate are regarded as the “best police stations”.  In such stations, the policemen collect huge monthly income from narcotics dealers and those running brothels or gambling dens.

Most of the SHOs collect ‘monthly’ from brothels, guesthouses, and gambling dens. The monthly income of the high-income police stations varies from one million to three million rupees, depending upon the numbers of brothels and gambling dens located in the area.

Lahore is divided into six police divisions with over 100 police stations and police posts. Actually, many SHOs are posted at high-income police stations only for a couple of months. Senior police officers are also part of the problem.

The police stations including Data Darbar, Nolakha, Qila Gujjar Singh, Lorry Adda, Shafiqabad, Shadbagh, Baghbanpura, Shahdara, Defense-A, Nawan Kot, Shera Kot, Satu Katla, Badami Bagh, Factory Area, Kot Lakhpat, Ravi Road, and Nishtar Colony are considered A-plus police stations from where SHO can generate millions of rupees every month.

Similarly, Iqbal Town, Johar Town, Nawab Town, Ghalib Market, Shahdara Town, Misri Shah, Garhi Shahu, Bhati Gate, Gowalmandi, Tibbi City, Lohari Gate, Manga Mandi, Sabzazar, Hanjarwal, Kahna, South Cantonment, North Cantonment, and Chuhng police stations are said to be A-one police stations with high crime rate and high-income.

There are a good number of police officers who are serving as SHOs in different police stations for the last several years. They were suspended and even dismissed from service on corruption charges many times but they got back postings successfully.

The SHOs also collect huge bribe from the B-category police stations which included Samanabad, Wahdat Colony, Millat Park, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Shalimar, Gujjarpura, Islampura, Manawan, Sanda, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Mustafa Town, and Masti Gate, Harbanspura, Batapur, Gulberg, Faisal Town, Ichhra, and Ghaziabad police stations .

Extortion by police is a routine matter and many foot constables are seen accepting bribe from hawkers, passersby, and roadside food stalls etc. Brothels, gambling dens, organised crime syndicates, and transporters are also a major source of income. This has to stop. The police department must take bold initiatives to flush out the corrupt mafia from the police department. The police leadership should take anti-corruption steps to discourage the ‘hafta’ and ‘monthly’ culture.

Under the present scenario where influential individuals are virtually running the affairs of the police department, the talks of change in police culture (Thana culture) seem unrealistic.

This transfer and posting policy also indicates that the government is no more serious in bringing positive changes to improve the policing.  In their campaign manifesto, the PTI leaders had pledged the much-needed police reforms. Since politicians are virtually running the affairs of the police department, the talks of police reforms in near future seem unrealistic. This transfer and posting policy also indicates that the PTI leadership is no more serious in improving the policing.

The top police officers should be given freehand and all postings and transfers should be made on merit. The corruption-tainted SHOs and those having bad repute must be removed and new officers should be given an opportunity to serve the public through a merit-based policy.