=> KARACHI, Jan 3: As life in the city returns to nor
KARACHI, Jan 3: As life in the city returns to normal after days of violence following the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the careers of over half a dozen police officers stand in danger of being derailed to varying extents since departmental officials are in the process of finalising charge-sheets against them regarding professional negligence in terms of four days of arson, vandalism and violence in their areas.
A top official confirmed that the names of seven police officers, including those of SSP rank, have been placed on the list that is being prepared to charge them with negligence since these officers failed to perform their duties as was required.
“We have identified seven different areas that emerged as the most volatile after the Dec 27 incident in Rawalpindi,” Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Azhar Ali Farooqui told Dawn. “I cannot disclose the names but we have nearly prepared charge-sheets in order to take action against them.”
While the CCPO did not reveal the intensity of the action expected to be taken against the police officers named on the charge-sheets, he said that it could put a serious dent in the officers’ careers if they were found to have been negligent during the recent violence.
“We held a proper inquiry into the matter and concluded that in the seven areas pointed out, the concerned officers either did not move to take measures against the miscreants, or fell short in the performance of the duties that were required at that particular time.”
The city’s police force’s initiative to hold its own people accountable appears to be a move in line with directives from Islamabad: in his address to the nation on Wednesday, President Pervez Musharraf urged that “the matter needed to be fully investigated.” The president had said that the nation had suffered losses worth billions of rupees and investigations were needed to apprehend the criminal elements involved in the looting and arson that was witnessed in Sindh in particular.
That the city police’s move came within hours, not even days, has set the alarm bells ringing in the quarters concerned and speculation about the services of certain officers is rife. However, sources within the police department said that there is a greater likelihood that certain names would be amongst the seven officers reportedly named on the charge-sheets.
“Officers responsible for Lyari, Gadap and Gulshan-i-Iqbal tows are amongst the most likely to feel the heat. There are also chances that names from Bin Qasim, Baldia and Landhi towns will figure upon the list,” said a source on the condition of anonymity. “The decision – or, you can say, action – is due within a few hours.”
The current organisational structure of the city’s police force, which came into effect in July 2007, divided the city into three zones: West, East and South, each zone having five towns under its jurisdiction.
In this new system, the four earlier police administrative towns were merged with other towns. Site town was merged with Baldia town, Orangi town with North Nazimabad town, Korangi town with Landhi town and Malir town was attached with Bin Qasim town.
“The areas mentioned in the list were found to have been at the centre of violence after the death of Ms Bhutto,” said the source. “Police high-ups initially gathered data from all the affected parts, which they believe is self-explanatory in terms of the performances of the officers concerned.”
The source told Dawn that data compiled by different organisations in terms of the destruction of public and private properties also helped the police in reaching the final assessment. Similarly, he said, complaints from various social and political circles were taken into account while the police authorities were making decisions.
The Sindh government has already issued its assessment of losses of property and life during the spell of violence: over 900 vehicles destroyed, 131 banks set on fire, 37 police stations attacked, 31 petrol pumps torched while 40 persons lost their lives and 57 were injured throughout the province after violence broke out in wake of the Liaquat Bagh assassination.
However, the figures compiled by the city government survey disagree with the provincial authorities’ stand, since the local body counted some 850 vehicles burnt or damaged and 22 people dead in Karachi alone. The local body survey lists 26 bank branches and two post offices torched, 60 shops destroyed, 17 petrol pumps set on fire, 24 factories set ablaze and a police station and a railway junction wrecked in the metropolis during the violence.