The Islamabad police have always been accused of covertly and overtly backing gangs of criminals, robbers, drug barons and land grabbers.

It is alleged that instead of going against the law breakers evenhandedly the police always become a party in disputes, especially involving property. But as a damage control move, the department makes low-grade officials scapegoats after letting the criminals off the hook.

Like their predecessors, the newly-appointed senior police officers have also claimed that there is no room for corrupt elements in the department.

Recently, 120 policemen from the ranks of constable to deputy superintendent were removed from key posts and sent to the Rescue 15 headquarters. They allegedly had links with criminals, including auto-thieves, robbers and operators of brothels, gambling and liquor dens.

Besides, a ‘professional standard unit’ has been established to identify black sheep and corrupt elements in the force. Headed by an assistant inspector general of the police (AIG), the unit has been tasked with the job of evaluating the personnel from the rank of constable to inspector general by gathering intelligence about their professional and personal lives, dual nationalities, property businesses and children studying abroad.

However, the credibility of the unit is at stake as the AIG heading it was among the officers who illegally obtained more than two plots in the National Police Foundation (NPF) housing scheme which was launched for low-grade policemen. During the hearing of the NPF land scam case, the Supreme Court on May 30, 2013, observed that top police officers treated the housing scheme as their family concerns. The case has now been referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for further proceedings.

Tall claims notwithstanding, police collusion with criminals and gangs of land grabbers still continued. On October 30, the station house officer (SHO) of Margalla was suspended after he allegedly facilitated four henchmen of Taji Khokhar, an alleged land grabber, to walk away after being taken into custody along with 16 other gunmen from the premises of the district and sessions court building.On October 29, the police were scheduled to bring Taji Khokhar from the Adiala Jail and produce him before the court in connection with a land grabbing case registered against him in March 2011.

According to the police, the 20 gunmen riding five vehicles - four Vigos and a land cruiser - reached the court premises to set Taji Khokhar free and kill the complainant in the case.

They were armed with Kalashnikovs, 9mm pistols and sub-machineguns.

Tipped by its special branch, the police deputed personnel in an around the court building. As soon as the armed men reached the area, the police arrested them and recovered 14 Kalashnikovs, 9mm pistols and sub-machineguns from their possession.

But strangely, the Margalla police took hours to book the accused and then nominated only 16 of them showing the recovery of one SMG along with six magazines and 94 rounds. In the meantime, the four persons, who headed the gunmen, were released along with 13 Kalashnikovs, 9mm pistols and sub-machineguns. Sources say the four henchmen were let off on the direction of senior police officers but as a damage control move the SHO was removed from the post.

This was not the first incident in which the police were suspected of being hands in glove with the criminals. In June 2012, the capital police detained 22 officials of the Rawalpindi police and the anti-corruption department and later expelled them from the capital after they arrived to arrest Malik Riaz Hussain, a property tycoon.

The officials had come after the anti-corruption court in Rawalpindi issued warrants for the arrest of Malik Riaz along with his son Ali Riaz and five other people for failing to appear before the court in a 1,400 kanals land fraud case registered against them in 2009.

But the capital police made it impossible for their counterparts from Rawalpindi to take the accused into custody and even registered a criminal case against them.

Besides, policemen deployed at the checkposts in Faizabad and Kashmir Highway were suspended along with the guards of the Aabpara police station and the subdivisional police officer for allowing the team to reach the police station.

Later, squads of the capital’s two top police officers in their patrolling vehicles under the supervision of an SP escorted the policemen from Rawalpindi out of the limits of Islamabad.

In January 2010, the gunmen of Malik Riaz and his rival Malik Tabarak Bari opened fire on each other in front of the district and sessions court at F-8 Markaz. The fracas occurred despite deployment of police and Rangers personnel in the area where offices of top police and administration officers are also located.

The two rival property tycoons along with their dozens of armed guards appeared in the court of the district and sessions judge in connection with an inquiry ordered by the chief justice of Pakistan on October 26, 2009. The case related to the killing of a security guard during a clash between the officials of two housing societies over a land dispute on August 13, 2008.

Soon after coming out of the courtroom, the two property tycoons exchanged harsh words and then their armed guards opened fire leaving one person dead and seven others, including a DSP, injured.

The police remained a silent spectator to the clash but later rounded up 12 of the gunmen. However, soon the gunmen of Malik Riaz were let off along with their weapons and vehicles.

Though separate cases were registered against the two rival groups, no action was taken against Malik Riaz and his gunmen.

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