LAHORE - What to say about the cases of crimes especially armed robberies taking place in urban parts of the province when dacoities are on the rise even in the flood affected districts.

The Punjab central police office has directed the district police officers to set up public complaint centers in the flood-hit areas to control crimes and to ensure safe evacuation the masses. The public complaint centers are being established on the orders of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera, says a police spokesperson.

Insiders say the police take the initiative following reports of rise in robberies in the flood-hit areas where the victims are unable to file complaints at the cop stations. The police patrolling has also been intensified in such area, officials claimed. Police officials observed that the spate of night robberies struck the flood-hit regions including Jhelum, Jhang, Sialkot, Chiniot, Hafizabad, Multan, and Muzaffargarh. In such districts, the police are unable to report the cases and to nab the criminals since road-links are cut off in different districts of the province. A public complaint center has been made functional at the office of the district police officer in Chiniot. Many of the crimes incidents taking place in the flood-hit areas are not being reported. The police are already facing dearth of personnel in the rural and far-flung localities.

Hundreds of policemen from the Lahore Reserve Force or the Punjab Constabulary are dispatched to the federal capital to cope with protesting groups, no matter the flood victims need better and proper security at this testing time.

In the urban districts, the cases of killings, abductions, robberies, rape, and other heinous crimes are rapidly increasing, thanks to the poor policing. According to police record, at least 234,602, cases of crimes of various natures have been registered during the first seven months of this year against 224,212 cases of crimes reported during the corresponding period last year. The provincial police reported 57,779 cases of crimes against property and 33,987 cases of crimes against person from January to July 2014. In the category of crimes against person, more than 3601 cases of murder, 4303 cases of attempted murder, 8751 cases of kidnapping, 69 of kidnapping for ransom, 1651 of rape and 172 of gang-rape has been reported since January to July. During the same period, the police also registered 1,412 cases of dacoity, 11,749 of robbery, 8,427 of burglary, 11,856 of motor vehicle theft, 3,684 of motor vehicle snatching, and 4,158 of cattle-theft. Lahore left behind all other districts in the category of crimes against property since the crimes rate in the Punjab Capital swelled to an alarming level. This is evident from the fact that dacoits robbed residences, looted families, passersby, and motorists in more than 200 strikes during the last seven days and snatched away cash, gold ornaments, and other valuables worth Rs 40 million. The provincial metropolis also witnessed a whopping rise in the incidents of heinous crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, dacoity-cum-murder and house robberies, thanks to government for putting the lives and property of the people at the mercy of dacoits and killers.

Lahore police record reveals the worst category in the crime against property remained robbery with more than 2400 cases reported during the first six months of this year against 1250 incidents registered in the same period last year. As many as 50 cases of dacoity were reported from January to June this year as compared to 33 in the same period last year. Robberies with murders also witnessed an alarming increase of in the current year as 12 incidents have been reported this year as compared to five incidents of last year. In Lahore, there is no let-up in the incidents of armed robberies despite the police killed more than three dozen alleged bandits in police ‘encounters’ during the current year.

Some field officers say staged police encounters help control crimes in the crime-infested areas while the other policemen believe such short-term measures triggers violence in the society. The worsening law and order situation in Lahore has become a prime concern not only for the government but also for the top cops. During a brief chat a police officer said that the law and order duties and security for the VVIPs are hampering efforts of operation wing officials to trace crimes against property while on the other hand the investigators seems unable to smash the gangs of robbers.