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Special committee finds security lax in Pindi’s churches, parks

Published Jun 19, 2017 07:08am

RAWALPINDI: A special committee constituted by the Punjab home department has found security lapses on part of the district administration and police in churches and public parks and has recommended improving security measures to avoid untoward incidents.

According to the committee’s report, the monitoring team found gardeners performing security duties at a church and found overall management of the Nawaz Sharif Park “unsatisfactory”.

The inspection team consisted of four senior officials including additional director operations home department Sajjad Nasir Toor, SSP investigations Rawalpindi Sikandar Hayat, deputy director Intelligence Bureau Rawalpindi Iftikhar Baqar and district officer Special Branch Jhelum Mohammad Younas.

Committee found gardeners performing security duties at a church

The team visited four churches, five public parks and other entertainment venues and foundd overall security arrangements “unsatisfactory” though arrangements at the Jinnah Park and Ayub Park were found to be satisfactory.

During a visit to the St Paul Church on The Mall in Rawalpindi, the team found there were no barriers at the main gate and not CCTV cameras were installed on the premises. Razor wire was also not affixed on the gate or the boundary wall.

There was no baggage scanner and the watch tower was not manned, the under-vehicle checking mirror was found to be faulty and the security supervisor was not trained properly. The local police only conducted patrols when needed.

The committee said the security around Christ Church GHQ Road was insufficient and “unsatisfactory”.

The team said there was only one metal detector which was also not functioning, a walk through gate was not installed, the CCTV were not functioning, razor wire was not affixed on the boundary wall and no permanent guards were available. However, the church management did hire local security guards when needed.

The team found security arrangements at St. Joseph Catholic Church on Tamizud Din Road “unsatisfactory”.

Only one of the three metal detectors was functioning and CCTV cameras were installed so just half the premises was under surveillance.

Other than police patrolling, only three security guards were deployed who performed duties in shifts.

The team pointed out security lapses at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Saddar as gardeners were performing duties as security guards and that too without weapons.

No CCTV cameras were installed in the church and security checks of the employees of the church were not carried out by the Special Branch or police.

There was no watch tower and it also did not have search lights. The boundary wall was low and was not mounted with razor wire.

The station house officer of the concerned police station does not visit the church.

The team recommended dedicated, well-trained security staff be deployed and security cameras be installed along with other security gadgets.

The team inspected five public parks as well including Jinnah Park, Ayub Park, Nawaz Sharif Park, Wonder Land Park and Bachon Ki Dunya.

Nawaz Sharif Park is spread over 12 acres, is located on Murree Road and is run by the Punjab Horticulture Authority. Only three untrained security guards have been deployed at the park whose weapon licenses have expired.

The team found that 25 gardeners performed duties as watchmen and that too without weapons. The security guard’s room has been converted to a control room and the boundary wall is not covered by CCTV cameras. Two walkthrough gates and two metal detectors are available for security checks.

Located behind Nawaz Sharif Park and spread over 12 kanals, Wonder Land Park was declared “fairly” maintained. The team found the park being guarded by 10 security guards including two women.

Being run by a private company, the park has a control room and eight CCTV cameras though the boundary wall’s height was said to be low and there is no watch tower. The staff has also not been cleared by the local police.

Bachon Ki DUnya Park spreads over eight kanals and is located in Commercial Market B Block. The team said the park’s management was “unsatisfactory”. The team said the much visited park was guarded by just one watchman and not one of the CCTV cameras installed worked properly. Staff was also not cleared by the Special Branch or the police.

The special team’s report, containing pictures of the churches and parks, was sent to the district police and administration to ensure their managements follow security standard operating procedures.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017