LAHORE - A complaint cell at the Central Police Office in Lahore has literally exposed police working at stations across the Punjab province.

The station house officers and sub-divisional police officers are struggling to conceal major crime incidents particularly armed robberies. Most of the victims of heinous crimes are being discouraged and misbehaved when they reach police station for registering of First Information Reports.

Last week, the Punjab’s central police office received two complaints from different parts of the province. Both the victims of house robberies informed the provincial police chief that the local police refused to register their cases. After departmental inquires, it was revealed that the local police were discouraging the victims of robberies deliberately to keep the crime graph low in their respective districts.

Fourteen dacoits equipped with automatic weapons stormed the house of Munir Ahmad in Kot Mahmood Ferozwala, district Sheikhupura, on December 12. The gunmen held the family hostage and made off with cash, gold ornaments, and other valuables worth millions of rupees.

The house owner Munir Ahmad submitted an application at Sharaqpur police station for registration of FIR on December 13, but the police straightforwardly refused to register the dacoity case. The next day, the applicant filed another complaint with the IGP’s Complaint Cell (8787) through a text message for registration of an FIR.

The matter was sent to DSP Ferozwala for further action. The Ferozwala DSP also met the applicant at his office but send back a bogus report to the IGP stating that no such incident took place there.

Again, Munir Ahmad submitted a complaint against DSP Ferozwala at the IGP’s complaint cell on December 20. The IGP took notice of the complaint submitted by Munir Ahmad and ordered an inquiry. After the inquiry, IGP suspended DSP Ferozwala for telling a lie to him.

Not enough, a citizen Faisal Ejaz got registered his complaint through 8787 complaint cell on December 24. Faisal along with his two friends was going to Chakwal on December 17 when four gunmen stopped them near Pind Dadan Khan. The dacoits held up all the three friends at gunpoint and fled after snatching Rs 450,000, mobile phone and other valuables from them.

The victims submitted an application for the registration of an FIR at the Pind Dadan Khan police station but the SHO was reluctant to register the robbery. Then, Faisal Ejaz submitted an application filed an application at complaint cell. The complaint was sent to DSP Pind Dadan Khan for further proceedings. The DSP not only refused to register the case but also misbehaved with the victim for approaching the complaint cell at the CPO.

According to officials, when the matter was brought into the notice of the IGP he ordered departmental action against DSP Pind Dadan Khan.

The police are discouraging the victims of crimes at a time when the crime graph has already swelled to an alarming level all over the province. According to latest police data, at least 79,425 cases were registered in the category of crime against property from January to November this year as compared to 73,136 such cases reported during the same period last year.

The police reported at least 728 cases of dacoities (involving five or more than five gunmen) in the first 11 months of the current year against the last year’s 636 such cases. The police data shows that at least 12,847 armed robberies were reported during the first 11 months of this year against 11,397 such incidents reported during the corresponding period in 2017.

At least 10,331 cases of burglary were reported by the police this year against last year’s 10,120 cases registered during the same period.

The provincial police registered 1,285 theft cases from January to November this year against 1403 theft cases reported during the corresponding period in 2017. The police data shows a reasonable rise in cattle theft cases this year as compared to the previous.

According to police, as at least 5,052 cattle theft cases were registered during the first 11 months of this year in Punjab while last year the police had reported 4,594 such cases during the same period.

This year, the police reported at least 3,236 cases of motor vehicle snatching in the first 11 months while during the same period in 2017 the police had reported 3,172 such cases.

As far as the motor vehicle theft is concerned, the police reported 17,353 cases against the previous year’s 14,356 cases reported during the same period.

In Punjab, the auto-lifting has become a booming business. More than 20,000 citizens are deprived of their vehicles every year.

Less than 10 per cent of the total snatched or stolen vehicles are recovered by police annually, and thousands of auto-lifting cases are declared by police as “untraceable”.

Many victims of armed robberies hold police responsible for the worsening law and order situation in the province. Gangs of criminals and proclaimed offenders are freely roaming and looting citizens with impunity.

Police sources say they believe that more than 300 robberies including house robberies are taking place daily in the largest Punjab province. The police report only 25 percent of the total crime incidents in order to hide the heinous crime happenings.

The cops deliberately hush up armed robberies, which take place in rural areas and small districts. Even the complainants are harassed when they approach the police stations for the registration of such incidents.

This situation has badly exposed the Thana Culture in Punjab and it should be an eye opener for PTI leadership since they had pledged police reforms in their campaign manifesto before July elections.