KARACHI: In the wake of the tragic death of 10-year-old Amal Umar, who was hit by a bullet fired by a policeman on Aug 13 in Defence area, authorities on Saturday decided to replace Kalashnikov rifles and arm policeman deputed at checkpoints, on patrol and escort duties with small guns.
The decision to arm policemen with pistols, or revolvers, was taken to avoid the display of assault rifles.
Karachi police chief Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh said in an order that “it has been observed with great concern that all police personnel deployed for patrolling, pickets or escort duties are armed with sub-machine guns.
“Display of automatic assault weapon in urban setting is not only scary but also results in casualties in case of even accidental firing,” he stated. “Thus, [it] can create negative image/perception in general public. Therefore, it has been decided to replace all assault weapons with pistols/revolvers on the basis of availability of official pistols/revolvers.”
IGP calls for ‘war’ on street crime
The city police chief also stated that the automatic weapons/SMGs should not be displayed or pointed towards general public during escort movement or mobile patrolling.
Firing refresher courses
Dr Shaikh, through another order, directed the police officers and heads of police training centres to arrange “firing refresher courses” for constables.
He stated in the order that for the last two years no firing refresher course was arranged for constables.
He asked the heads of two police training centres to make a daily schedule for 540 policemen for the firing refresher course.
The DIGs of South, West and East zones had been directed to arrange arms and ammunition, it added.
The Aug 13 killing of Amal also prompted the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the incident.
Also on Saturday, President Arif Alvi met with the grief-stricken parents at their residence in Defence.
However, Dr Shaikh told Dawn that the decisions to replace assault rifles and refresher course had been taken on account of three reasons.
First, display of heavy weapons by the police tended to create fear particularly among children travelling with their family. Secondly, it was difficult to carry SMGs compared to pistols.
Lastly, the city police chief said, four major ‘collateral damage’ incidents had taken place in Karachi since 2015 in which innocent people lost their lives during police’s action against criminals.
1,500 more policemen to fight street crime
Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam chaired a meeting at the Central Police Office “to chalk out a strategy and take more steps for elimination of street crime” and decided to deploy 1,500 more policemen along with vehicles to fight the menace.
The decision was taken to overcome shortage of policemen being faced by the Karachi police, city police chief Dr Shaikh said, adding that the constables would be deployed at “hotspots of crimes”.
Dr Shaikh gave a briefing to the participants of the meeting.
The IGP said that given the challenge of street crime, “a war” should be declared against such crimes and elements/groups involved in it.
Besides, he also issued directives to police officers to conduct snap-checking at ‘particular points’ for two hours on a daily basis.
He also gave 300 more motorbikes to the city police to fight street crime.
The IGP also ordered a crackdown to curb the sale and purchase of snatched/stolen mobile phones after holding a meeting with associations dealing with cell phone business.
He announced monetary rewards as well as appreciation certificates for those people who would inform the police about crimes.
All SHOs would be given vehicles for timely response against the crimes.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2018