LAHORE: Street crime and robbery incidents continue to unnerve people as police have failed to improve the situation despite taking several initiatives.

The city police in recent months claim to have taken steps to improve patrol by introducing a new force but several incidents stoked unrest in Lahorites who question alleged laxity in patrolling and crime-control planning.

Last year, the city police had introduced the Police Response Unit (PRU) for patrol and the officials were given new cars. Later, they also introduced Dolphin Force in April this year to increase patrol in the city to curb crime. Some 700 policemen with new uniforms, top-of-the-line motorbikes, and blue tooth microphone-equipped helmets were launched.

The government invested heavily on the Dolphin Force project and the policemen were sent to Turkey for training. Under the project, 2,400 officials are to be trained by the Turkish trainers at the police academy. On Nov 15 last, Government Science College associate professor Rao Altaf Hussain was shot dead by two motorcyclists when he was going home after dropping his son at a school in Iqbal Town. The CCTV footage of the incident showed that the motorcyclists stopped the professor’s car and one of them opened fire leaving him in a pool of blood.

On Nov 19, five people were shot dead by robbers in Millat Park. The incident took place when two armed motorcyclists reached a Paan Shop at Pakki Thathi and held the owner at gunpoint. The robbers were collecting cash and mobile phone when the owner tried to overpower one of the robbers whose accomplice shot at and injured him.

Some customers at the shop tried to chase the robbers and were also shot at and injured. All the injured persons were taken to hospital, where doctors pronounced them dead.

A day later, two motorcyclists snatched earrings from a woman in Nishter Colony and fled. The very next day (Nov 21), a video went viral on social media showing that four armed motorcyclists held up a family at a Faisal Town traffic signal and took away cash and jewellery. The robbers can be seen fleeing from the scene without any interruption.

According to police data, 2,461 robbery, snatching and theft cases were registered in the city during the current year. Police have submitted the challans in 1,209 cases before courts and 1,252 cases are still under investigation.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif gave the city police 72 hours to arrest the criminals involved in the Millat Park and Faisal Town incidents.

The city police operation wing spokesman, Syed Hammad Raza, claimed that Dolphin Force and PRU officials arrested 288 criminal during patrol. They also recovered 68 cars, 78 motorcycles and seized 92 pistols, 13 rifles, 550 bullets, 21kg hashish and three kg heroin from them.

He said Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operation Dr Haider Ashraf had directed SP Mujahid and Mobiles Karrar Hussain Syed to improve patrol.

The SP told Dawn that they were covering only 40pc of the city through patrol. He said the city had been divided into 325 beats and they need 360 cars and 650 motorcycles to cover it but they have only 110 cars for PRU and 300 bikes for Dolphin to patrol the city.

He said Dolphin Force and PRU officials were working in one shift and they were also facing shortage of personnel to start it in three shifts. “It needs 6,000 officials for PRU and 4,500 for Dolphin Force to be deployed in the city to cover every beat in three shifts,” he added.

The SP said the government had provided 700 officials for Dolphin Force and 500 for PRU. He said they had sent summaries to the government to increase the force and provide infrastructure to them in curbing the crime.

Quoting Pakki Thathi incident in which five people were killed over robbery resistance, he said the area was not included in Dolphin and PRU forces beat due to shortage of the manpower. He said Dolphin and PRU force had prevented many incidents and arrested 55 dangerous criminals from different areas of the city.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2016