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LAHORE: Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) officials seem to be lukewarm about campaign against power theft after the police allegedly started showing reluctance over registration of cases against the ‘offenders.’

The impression developed after police appeared reluctant in registering the First Information Reports (FIRs) on various theft cases referred by the distribution company for the last 30 days, according to an official source in Lesco.

The Lahore police (operations) chief dispels the impression, stating that there was no reluctance on the part of police in registering the cases. “We are extraordinarily cooperating with Lesco [in theft cases]. Even we are rendering our full support over protests against loadshedding,” DIG (Operations) Dr Haidar Ashraf told Dawn.

DIG claims full cooperation with company

However, the official source in Lesco claims that for about one month, none of the case related to electricity theft referred by the sub divisional officers (SDOs) to police was registered despite reminders.

“Since the police are reluctant to do so, it seems the government doesn’t want an extreme action against power thieves,” says the official.

“The upcoming general elections next year may also be the reason behind this ‘leniency’, as it may annoy voters if the campaign against power theft continues vigorously,” the official, who requested anonymity, told this reporter on Tuesday.

He said police appeared reluctant after a Lesco team headed by the Chah Meeran SDO raided a locality on April 10 and caught some people led by a councillor (reportedly belonging to the PML-N) red-handed while stealing electricity on the spot. However, the suspects expressed anger over the raid, thrashed and injured SDO Imran Rasool. They also [allegedly] threatened the SDO and his team with dire consequences and fled. However, the Gujjarpura police registered a case against the suspects.

“The police, rather than capturing the main suspect, arrested some irrelevant people. After this, none of the power theft cases referred by Lesco was registered. This attitude has demoralised Lesco officials, who are supposed to curb power theft. And now they are doing this particular job halfheartedly,” the official said. He said the reluctance on the part of police was a ‘message’ to Lesco officials to resolve such issues amicably rather than taking action in the form of FIR and its followup in courts.

But DIG Dr Haider Asharf didn’t agree with the impression developed by the Lesco official.

“Some time ago, we invited the senior Lesco officials and offered them any sort of help they required from police in power theft cases or on any other issue, including the public protests against loadshedding. The Lesco official appreciated us and pledged to coordinate with police on all these issues,” Dr Ashraf said.

“We are registering all power theft cases being referred by Lesco. And if there is any problem, the Lesco should have informed us in writing or even verbally that police didn’t do. Since we are always ready to render our full support to Lesco officials, they must contact us immediately and then see the results,” he maintained.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2017