Islamabad-The residents of Banigala have appealed Prime Minister Imran Khan to save them from the humiliation of Islamabad police in the name of protocol and security. “We voted for him on the promise to eliminate corruption and to end VIP culture, but now we have being humiliated by police in front of our neighbours and kids, in our houses, where we have been living since a long time”, said Raja Farast, a resident of Bani Gala. Bani Gala is one of the five constituencies from where Khan won the 2018 general elections. The small village is also home to the constituency of PTI chief, where he has been living from decades in his 300 canal villa. 

The residents have an emotional attachment with Khan since he did most of his political struggle while living in the neighbourhood.  They have been watching the cricket legend riding the front seat of his sports utility vehicle (SUV) alone, without any protocol with profound gratitude for a long time. 

Even when Khan made his government in KP he was roaming without any protocol, always riding in the front seat of his Land Cruiser for which the residents lauded and admired him. During the last five years, the roads of Banigala have been choked numerous times. Sometimes by those protesting against Khan’s government in KP and sometimes by Khan’s rallies, but the residents continue to admire him despite all the sufferings in hope that Khan will become a beacon of change. 

But the dreams were shattered to pieces when more than 350 police officials took over the narrow roads, soon after Khan won majority seats in the National assembly. 

 Many temporary posts were erected on and around the three-kilometre long Korang road, linking Khan’s residence with the highway. Capital police’s security division, which provides security for top government functionaries including the president, combed the whole area through a special branch and other security officials. Each house situated on the main road was searched and every resident went through police interviews and security checks. Red alert patrols, high-speed ambulances, fire-brigades, and police barriers restricted the movement.

Due to heavy police presence, the already small place shrunk even further and the residents lost all their privacy and space.

The extraordinary measures surprised many as Khan during his speeches always criticised his opponents for having protocol which according to him was a massive burden on the national exchequer of a poor country where more than half of the population is living below poverty line.

It was a shock for thousands of supporters who helped him in getting a clean sweep. Bani Gala is part of the constituency whose overwhelming majority voted for Khan as he won the seat by securing 92,891 votes whereas; former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (PML-N) was only able to bag 44,314 votes. “It is worse than the previous government, the policemen enter shops and eat whatever they want, they even don’t spare fruit and eatable stalls”, said Ghulam Rasool another resident. He said the officials even entered shops and offices situated near the road complaining long hours of duty, asking for a place to sit, for food and tea. “Khan must remember how cruel the police was in 2004 when police raided his house with thousands of armed officers as if he was a terrorist. 

Economical progress may take time but he can at least provide basic human rights and protection to his own neighbours”, said Malik Ahad, another resident.

 Since coming in power, Khan’s office is trying hard to project a simple, protocol -less lifestyle of the Prime Minister and his team, but officials term it nothing but politics. “We have been providing security to Prime Minister in the same manner that we have been providing to previous premiers as per the blue book (a classified document which explains security arrangements during VVIP movements). There have been no changes in the old security procedures”, said an official. He said police and city administration only follows procedures and written orders, and the new government has not made any changes to security protocols. “We told the PM that living in Bani Gala is a security risk and it will cause trouble to the general public but he (Imran Khan) did not listen to us”, he said. He said according to the book, all the roads and adjoining parking lots must be cleared, all movement must be halted prior to VVIP movement. When asked about the problems that the residents were facing, he said it would be a permanent feature and locals must become used to it for the next five years. “I understand the roads are small and narrow, some of the adjoining areas are thickly populated, it is true that the residents suffer due to security duty but we are helpless as we have to abide by the rules”, he said.

The officials deployed confirmed that they were only following old protocols and procedures.

We clear all roads and close link roads, and all adjacent parking areas as part of the elite protocol said Inspector Khalid of traffic police deployed on protocol duty in Bani Gala. When contacted for comments, Inspector General Police office told to contact Senior Superintendent of Police Operations Islamabad Najib ur Rehman Bugvi. The SSP operation’s office referred the scribe to the Security Division. The Deputy Inspector General (Security) Waqar Ahmed Chohan insisted that there has been no protocol and only essential security was being provided to the Prime Minister. He, however, ensured that his office will ensure that no citizen will be disturbed by the police. Chohan is serving in Islamabad’s top slot since 2011, after a court sentenced him three years imprisonment under section 155C with a fine of Rs50, 000, in the infamous Sialkot lynching case, as DPO Sialkot.