LAHORE - Keeping the existing situation of security and law and order in the provincial capital, leaves of all the Punjab policemen have been cancelled.

The personnel of 178,000 strong law enforcement agency are supposed to remain on-guard across the province to protect people during Eid prayers. Surely, they might be missing their children or extended families while the whole Pakistani nation will be celebrating one of the holiest festivals on Saturday (today).

“Since our country has been confronting serious security challenges on the internal and external fronts, we have to remain on our toes to thwart nefarious designs of the enemies of the sate,” Lahore DIG (Operations) Dr Haider Ashraf says.

On the directions of Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Amin Wains, the Lahore police have made extraordinary security arrangements under the slogan “We Protect, You Pray” to ensure peace and harmony in the holy month of Ramazan and also during Eid. “During this year, more police contingents would be deployed on security duties around religious places, markets, and shopping centers as compared to the previous years,” said DIG Haider Ashraf while talking to The Nation.

He added he knows thousands of policemen from constable to deputy inspector general ranks will have to give Eid a miss because they live away from their families (because of frequent postings). “All police stations are ordered a few days before to not allow leave to any policemen,” the DIG said.

Hardly any cop gets lucky to have his leave sanctioned because Lahore police have been facing dearth of policemen from constables to sub-inspectors. All the districts including the provincial capital face shortage of cops against the sanctioned strength. The shortage does not allow the top police officers to grant leave to any cop.

“We have to remain on-duty on every important occasion particularly during Eid prayers. I will surely miss my wife and parents who will be celebrating Eid at home,” says Constable Muhammad Farooq, a resident of Okara district who has been posted in Lahore’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to protect the prayers.

“Obviously, I shall go home after Eid holidays. It is part of our job and we have to sacrifice a lot to provide protection to the lives and properties of the public which is our basic responsibility.”

Sub-Inspector Sajid Noor says, “It really hurts me when I see other children celebrating Eid with their parents. I have four little children who live with my wife and parents in a suburban area of Lahore. However, I manage to control my emotions by talking to them on mobile phone.”

Another constable, Muhammad Ashraf says he is dejected because he can’t offer Eid prayers. “When people will offer Eid prayers, we will have to remain on security duties. It is really sad we cannot even offer Eid prayers.”

Constable Muhammad Aslam admits he does not like the celebrations. “It (Eid) is a special occasion and we should be away from the police uniform and be with the family. But we see the same persons all toting guns, same place, same feel and same taste. It does not feel like Eid even though the policemen celebrate among themselves,” he said.

He also demanded the cops who fail to get leaves during Eid holidays should be granted leaves after the festival so that they could visit their families.

Although SP Headquarters Omar Saeed has arranged a lot of activities for the cops at the police headquarters to celebrate the Eid, policemen prefer celebrating Eid with families over colleagues.

“It depends on the mood of the top police officers. Some of them allow us to wear civil clothes, some don't. Some allow us to party, some say there should be no party,” a sub-inspector rued, requesting anonymity.

A police officer told this scribe that more than 10,000 police officials performed security duties in Ramazan, while on Eid 160 squads are assigned patrolling duties in different areas of the provincial metropolis.

Also, the police will keep markets, parks, and other public places under strict surveillance. An awareness campaign has also been launched among the people to inform police emergency number Rescue-15 in case they find any person with suspicious movements or find any abandoned briefcase or luggage.

Lahore CCPO, DIGs, SSPs, and all the SPs and divisional police officers would check police deployment at mosques, imambargahs, churches, and markets.