LAHORE – The rate of heinous crime incidents including robberies and auto-lifting has swelled to more than 25 per cent in the provincial Capital, where the police have also launched an ‘aggressive’ campaign of fake encounters to eliminate the hardened criminals. Apparently, the new police formula of ‘killing the criminals to downgrade crimes’ has poorly failed to improve the worsening law and order situation in the capital of Punjab.

During the first eight months of this year, at least 450 people have been murdered in different parts of the City while the killers used illegal weapons in most of the cases to carry out murders.

According to police record, no less than 25 people including women were murdered on offering resistance during armed robberies in Lahore during the same period. The police investigators have failed to trace out the criminals in most of the robbery-cum-murder cases.

Similarly, gangsters hit more than 8 banks located in different parts of the City and snatched away millions of rupees but the police investigators are still groping in the dark as far the recovery of the looted cash and arrest of the gangsters is concerned.

Believe it or not, the police reported at least 3,100 cases of armed robberies, which took place in Lahore this year so far. The incidents of robberies have soared to 25 per cent if compared with the corresponding period of last year. The incidents of burglary have increased by four percent with a difference of 107 reported incidents.

As per police record, at least 1,100 cars and more than 4,000 motorcycles were either snatched or stolen away from different parts of the City until September 12. The surge in the incidents of auto-lifting is reported to be 30 per cent upward comparatively.

The police staged over two dozen fake encounters and killed more than 30 ‘criminals’ but there is no let-up in the incidents of armed robberies, kidnappings and auto-lifting.

The police jurisdictions of Defence, Garden Town, Johar Town, and Ghalib Market have become safe havens for auto-lifters as the police have badly failed to curtail this heinous crime. Satukatla, Shahdara, Gujjarpura, Nawab Town, Sabzazar, and Iqbal Town police areas appeared as the worst-hit police precincts, where the bandits are striking brazenly and with impunity.

Crimes experts have cited several possible explanations behind the surge in crimes here in the town including poor policing, corruption, criminal environment in the jails, epidemic of drugs and narcotics, unemployment, and poverty as well. But regardless of the reason, the crime rate upward trend continues as the police are seemingly helpless in smashing the gangs of organised criminals.

From street crimes to auto-lifting and armed robberies to house dacoities, the police have miserably failed to smash the organised gangs, which are striking brazenly and with impunity in the heart of Lahore, the provincial capital.

They were of the view that the crimes and law and order situation is worsening with every passing day in Lahore because of the poor performance of the CIA police, a wing of the police supposed to counter organised-crimes like armed robberies, blind murders, and kidnappings for ransom.

Last week, over one and a half dozen retired and serving top police officers sat together and strongly suggested proposals for reforms in the police department to clean the mess in the policing.

Addressing the symposium on ‘Police Reforms and Image Building’ held at the Central Police Office (CPO), the retired inspector generals of police (IGPs) and additional-IGs suggested that special security measures are needed to provide protection to the witnesses, complainants, prosecutors and judges during the hearing and investigations of important terrorism and crimes cases of heinous nature. They also suggested that the investigations of criminal cases should be carried out purely on merit and the investigators should maximum utilise the facility of forensic lab in this regard.

It was also suggested that the police department should be purged from politics by 100 pre cent and the top officers should be given free-hand as far as the postings and transfers of the police officers are concerned. They also stressed upon the extension of Police Emergency Service (Rescue-15) in order to immediately respond to the crimes happening to intercept and chase the criminals.

The government must take some bold steps to reform the police culture by providing required resources and powers to the authorities while the incompetent officers should be held accountable. The more aggressively the government will monitor the performance of the officers, the quicker the policing will start improving.