LAHORE - The rate of heinous crimes descended drastically during the holy month of Ramazan here in the provincial metropolis. The reported incidents of crimes including killings, kidnappings, and armed robberies registered a considerable decrease in the holy month if compared to the other months of the calendar.

While some people say the bandits deliberately avoided looting people at gunpoint because of Ramazan several police officers believe it happened due to the security plan, especially chalked for holy month.

Strangely, this year the crime ratio decreased considerably as compared to the last year’s Ramazan. This time, the overall law and order situation was almost under control with no robbery-cum-murder reported during the 29 days of holy month. In 2014, more than one dozen persons had been killed and several others wounded while resisting armed robberies during the same month of Ramazan in Lahore.

According to official statistics, the Lahore police reported only 10 incidents of dacoities during the Ramazan while normally at least five to seven such incidents take place everyday in the provincial capital. Similarly, at least 30 incidents of murders are reported every month in Lahore where the police registered only 16 cases of killings during the holy month.

Also, not a single bank heist reported during the holy month in Lahore. As far as armed robberies are concerned, the police reported at least 129 cases including house robberies in the metropolis, where at least 250 armed robberies takes place in every month.

For an instance, armed bandits, in the month of May, struck the provincial capital for more than 200 times and made off with cash, gold ornaments, and other valuables worth Rs600 million. The auto-lifters also took away 30 cars and no less than 100 motorcycles from different parts of the City in May 2015 – just a month before the start of Ramazan. However, the bandits during the holy of Ramazan took away 20 cars and 65 motorcycles.

The rate of heinous crimes declined significantly in all the six police divisions of Lahore including Civil Lines, Cantonment, Iqbal Town, Model Town, City, and Sadar police division. The city police division comparatively showed tremendous performance in the holy month as the crimes and law and order situation remained under control with a few incidents of street crimes.

Lahore police chief Muhammad Amin Wains says the police had made extraordinary security arrangements under the slogan “We Protect While You Pray” to ensure peace and harmony in the holy month. According to him, since Ramazan is the month of worship, prayers, and blessings, it was the responsibility of the police to provide peaceful environment and best security to the worshippers.

When asked why police cannot implement security strategy similar to Ramazan plan in other months, he admitted that the police took some unusual measures in the holy month.

“Look, all types of leaves including emergency leaves of all policemen had been cancelled and everybody was on guard. The SHOs were deployed on police pickets and the divisional SPs were on patrolling.”

In other months, he continued, we cannot suspend leaves and emergency leaves for the entire police force since they are also human being. “The police are already under staff in Lahore where the population is multiplying.”

The provincial government has recently provided latest model vehicles to the Lahore police and we hope that effective patrolling will definitely help control street crimes in other months as well.

According to insiders, the Lahore police had been directed to implement a comprehensive security plan in the holy month of Ramazan and deploy trained security guards at religious places, shops, and markets after proper verification.

Lahore DIG (Operations) Haider Ashraf says that an unusual security plan had been evolved to maintain peace and harmony in the provincial metropolis during Ramazan.

While talking to The Nation, the Operations police chief, Haider Ashraf, said during this year more police contingents had been deployed on security duties around religious places, markets, and shopping centers as compared to the previous years.

“There was full-fledged police security around religious places during Sehr, Iftar, and Taraveeh prayers. There were special and surprise pickets in every nook and corner of the city.” The more we received security threats, the quicker we stepped up snap checking, he explained.

DIG Haider Ashraf said that the security strategy had been divided into three categories. Apart from protecting prayers, the security of Ramazan bazaars was included in the second part of the plan while in the third phase heavy police contingents had been deployed around Eid Bazaars, markets, and important roads. Responding to a question, the DIG said that there were no specific security threats but the police remained on high-alert to thwart the nefarious designs of anti-state elements. Thousands of well-trained policemen including commandoes had been selected from the Lahore police for security duties in the most sensitive and crime-prone areas.

Under the plan, all the hotels, inns, and Ramazan bazaars were thoroughly checked. The field officers were directed to ensure armed patrolling in their respective areas and maintain foolproof security for all religious places by deploying Muhafiz Force and plainclothes officials there. There was three-layer security around religious places during Sehr, Iftar, Taraveeh, and Eid prayers and additional police force had also been deployed around Masajids and Imambargahs for proper checking.

Requesting anonymity, a police officer said that more than 16,000 personnel of the Lahore police out of the total 18,000 strength had to perform security duties in Ramazan. All the available Mobile squads were on patrolling in different areas.

According to officials, all the station house officers (SHOs) serving in Lahore had been directed to remain in the field at least 10 hours in a day. Also, parking areas were established at least 100 meters away from religious places where a constable or a private security guard had been deployed for snap-checking.

The police also kept bus-stands and the railway station under strict surveillance. An awareness campaign had 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.

Not enough, all the superintendents of police (SPs) and divisional SPs had to personally check police deployment at mosques, Imambargahs, churches, and markets on daily basis. Furthermore, they were directed to furnish reports to the office of DIG Operations on daily basis regarding security measures.

The field officers used metal detectors for physical checking around sensitive places while snap-checking was intensified at the entry and exit points of the metropolis.