ISLAMABAD: The capital police seem to have realised that civility works better than the threat of force. Indeed, this is how a police chief is said to have secured office space for the SP Industrial Area - over a cup of tea with a contractor who had earlier refused to give in to police scare tactics.

However, it seems that there may be a hitch in the police chief’s plan, as the contractor is bound by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and cannot legally turn over possession of the property to police straightaway.

The premises in question are located in H-11 and consist of five temporary structures, including a mosque, which construction firm Mohammad Ayub & Bros erected on a green belt along the Kashmir Highway to serve as its site office when it won the contract to expand the highway in 2011.

One of the office buildings was also meant for the CDA director of the project.

The site was raided in September and police allegedly misbehaved with and manhandled staff from the construction firm. The police team, led by Superintendent of Police (SP) Yasir Afridi, supposedly wanted the space to set up their own office.

Police chief apologises to contractor for undue harassment by SP Industrial Area

Five raids were conducted on the contractor’s site office from August through September, where police repeatedly threatened workers and asked them to vacate the site.

Police officers told Dawn that the Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tahir Alam Khan had recently invited the contractor to his office for tea and apologised for the officials’ behaviour.

When contacted, IGP Tahir Alam Khan confirmed that he had met with the contractor.

Sources said the meeting was called because the senior officer had realised that police ‘thana culture’ tactics only earned them a bad reputation.

Both men agreed to overlook the incident and the SP was forgiven. The IGP then tactfully brought up the issue of shortage of space and said police did not have a place to build their office. Sources said the IGP offered to pay for the site as well, the money for which would have come from the police welfare fund.

The contractor had, at first, refused to sell the premises, but was convinced to let the police use one of the buildings – the one meant for the CDA project director – free of cost.

The SP Industrial Area already has an office in I-10 Markaz, but for reasons unknown, it had to be moved to the new site.

Some officers speculated that the SP’s office was established in I-10 when the officer’s area included the Industrial Area and Sabzi Mandi police stations. After new police stations, circles and zones were formed, the SP’s area included four more areas, including Noon and Shams Colony.

Samad Khan, who owns Mohammad Ayub & Bros, confirmed to Dawn that he had met the IGP for tea in the second week of October and that the issue had been resolved. Mr Khan said SP Afridi had been present during the meeting too.

However, Mr Khan said that when he got in touch with the CDA and asked them to vacate the building, the authority said that they owned the building now.

“CDA told me I could not hand over possession of the building to someone else because I did not own it,” he said. CDA then asked the contractor to write to the police, requesting that the building be handed back to them.

However, he said he could not coordinate with them because he was “busy with some family matters and then travelled abroad”. Meanwhile, the SP had called about moving into the building.

The contractor said he would meet the police chief again, adding that he could not hand over the building to the police.

Sources in the police, however, say that plans to put the SP’s old office in I-10 to other use have already been drafted. Reportedly, a petrol pump will be built on the land to generate money for the police welfare fund. Capital police already own two fuel pumps: one on I.J. Principal Road and the another in I-11, adjacent to Police Lines.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2015

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