Lahore  - With poor infrastructure and inhospitable environment, a visible change is not likely to be seen. Even the entire up-portion of CCPO office has reached to the condition of resurrection.

Fifty-three police stations, out of 84 in provincial capital, are functioning either from either rented buildings or pathetic structures.

PML-N administrating the most populated province of the country has been claiming to change ‘Thana Culture’ since long but the sad functioning and the dilapidated condition of police stations proved the claims were not than a hollow slogan.

An officer said on anonymity that funds were not being released since one and half year, adding that five police stations were under construction.

Another factor, a particular mind-set in the police supports traditional ‘Thana Culture’ which is widening the gap between an aggrieved commoner and the police.

Sources say about 40 to 50 complaints against police are filed daily at Capital City Police Officer and twice as much applications are filed in courts against the police seeking directions for FIRs.

Shahbaz Hussain, a local resident, who had came to the CCPO office to lodge complain against Barki Police said on the 10th of October he was on his way to buy sacrificial animals along with three friends, when some constables stopped them. After searching they demanded bribe and on denial they took them to Barki police station where they snatched their cash (Rs 45,000) and two cell phones. Shahbaz said that they also registered an FIR no 315/13 against them and also physically tortured them.

Another citizen namely Allah Ditta told this scribe his daughter was kidnapped by a land lord family residing in limits of Model Town police station about a year ago. He said despite repeatedly requesting his case wasn’t registered. Ditta said he finally approached a local court seeking directions for registration of FIR and on court order, he said, they registered FIR but later dismissed it without assigning any reason.

 “If you have nothing in your pocket you will have to suffer continuously and no one will listen your grievances,” he said with his wet eyes.  A reliable officer who wished not to be named said police usually do not take bribe in registration of FIRs against crimes like theft and robbery. However, for registration of FIR in murder cases, kidnapping, rape and particularly in civil matters they do not register FIRs without quick money.

In civil matter including property and check-dishonor, a complainant has to pay at least Rs5000 while in murder cases, police involve many innocent people in FIRs and later set them free after taking under the table cash.

Nevertheless, it is really surprising that vendors and restaurants around police stations pay officers but in different ways; they serve them by their food and tea. A vendor in Tibbi area said the police, while patrolling come to him, and enjoy his fruit. He said standing there would be impossible without them onboard.

A milkman who runs his shop in the same bazaar said he serves officers with milk but charges lower price and sometime gets nothing. He admitted adulteration of milk and said he could not run his business without the support of police officers.

A police officer when asked shared some information saying that police officers enjoy food and tea of restaurants and small tea stalls and do not pay. He said this condemnable act is usually done by aged and less-educated constables. There is another factor; ‘extra-duty timings’. A police official of constable rank usually performs his duty 14 to 16 hours a day instead of 12 hours. However, the official who is serving above of Sub-Inspector mostly stay alert 24 hours a day—which has a real bad impact over their performance and attitude toward the masses. Whenever a constable reaches at police station after performing his duty after 16 hours, his senior directs him to go for another task.  Sources say that this was due to the shortage of police contingents as there were 26,000 contingents to control the population of Lahore—which is about 10 million.  Former secretary Lahore Bar Association Syed Farhad Ali Shah said that the purpose of police stations was to provide protection to all citizens and people but now the situation was totally different as meeting the SHO was not as easy as thought.

He said ‘Muharrars or Kar-e-Khas’ of SHOs take money and looks after all matters at police stations. Farhad said still in Lahore-like city, there were three additional and district judges who daily hear many applications against police for not registering FIRs. Arguing on his point of view, Farhad stated that political interference was the major reason behind this traditional ‘thana culture’. “MPAs want SHO of their own choice in their concerned constituency,” he said.

SSP Sohail Sokhera said they try their level best to maintain internal inquiries and discipline but political will was much needed to change the whole system and to change the traditional ‘thana culture’.

Answering to a question on complaints filed against police per day, he said about 60 to 70 complaints in week out of which 70 per cent are false. He said that the situation was better in Punjab as compared with other provinces.