KARACHI: As a sequel to the Sindh cabinet’s decision to replace the inspector general of police, the provincial government wrote to the federal government on Thursday to repatriate IGP Dr Syed Kaleem Imam, levelling serious charges relating to law and order against him.

According to the letter written by provincial secretary for services Navid Ahmed Shaikh to the secretary, establishment division, Islamabad, the Sindh cabinet in its meeting on Jan 15 deliberated upon the repatriation of the IG Sindh.

The cabinet members were of the view that there was an “increase” in the incidence of kidnapping, extortion and street crime. The law and order situation, which had improved earlier, had deteriorated during the last one year.

A copy of the letter obtained by Dawn also cites several high-profile cases such as the murder of Irshad Ranjhani, killing of Pakhtuns in Naudero and kidnapping of Bisma and Dua Mangi and claimed that the incidents had shattered the public confidence in the police.

The letter also said that the Sindh IGP had violated three provincial and federal laws. And to this effect, several incidents were cited in the letter such as direct communication with foreign missions, assuming the role of head of the police department, “unnecessary media talks” against the provincial government, transferring police officers to the Federal Investigating Agency without approval of the competent authority, leaking official correspondence to the media to “embarrass” the government, personally examining replies to assembly questions related to the police reported from field formations and not complying with the decisions of the Sindh Public Safety Commission.

Police sources refute charges against the provincial police chief

The cabinet observed that the IGP was given an opportunity to improve his performance through a letter written to him by the home department on Dec 13 but he (IGP) gave a cursory and evasive denial.

“The provincial cabinet is unanimously of the view that the IGP has lost the confidence of the provincial government due to his inability to lead the Sindh police, observe federal and provincial laws, control crimes and improve general law and order situation in the province,” the letter said.

“It is, therefore, requested that Mr Kaleem Imam, IGP Sindh, may be recalled immediately and the posting of a new IGP Sindh will be done through mutual consultation between the federal and provincial governments as laid down in the Sindh Police Act of 2019.”

It has been stated in the letter that “till the time new IGP is posted, the Sindh government will assign look-after charge of the post of IGP to an additional IGP (BS-21) currently working in the province”.

Police’s rejoinder

Police officers, aware of the contents of the letter, talking to Dawn rejected the charges levelled against the IG Sindh.

They said that crimes, particularly street crimes, had decreased to seven per cent in 2019 as compared to 2018 and that data could be verified from the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee and even Rangers.

They said that the police had encouraged people to get FIRs registered about crimes and owing to such “registration culture”, 23 per cent more crimes were registered in 2019 than the previous year.

Regarding certain cases referred to in the letter, police sources said the police authorities had taken “due cognizance and action” of the Irshad Ranjhani murder case. They claimed that he was killed in “self-defence” but it was a “mistake” of the police that they did not shift him to hospital immediately, resulting in his death. The provincial government was “repeating” the same case, for which action had already been taken.

The police sources observed that three Pakhtuns were killed in “reaction” to the death of Mr Ranjhani, said to be an activist of a nationalist party, because the chief minister had made a statement before the Sindh Assembly.

About kidnapping of the two girls in the Defence Housing Authority, the sources said that the police were “close to solving” those cases and wondered how the police chief could be held responsible for it.

“If there is a dog-bite case, will the health minister or secretary be held responsible for it?” remarked a senior officer.

About the Sindh government’s charges that the IGP was “defying” the federal or provincial laws by directly engaging with foreign missions, the police sources said that after the 9/11 incidents in the US, America, the UK and other countries had been providing support to the police in capacity building and provision of modern equipment for years.

The IGP had only once engaged directly with the UK recently when its officials suggested providing forensic training to the Sindh police. The IG approached the CM, chief secretary and home secretary but they made it an “issue” due to which six police officers from Sindh could not attend the course in forensic science abroad while officers from the other provinces went abroad.

Similarly, the Sindh government also made it an “issue” when US officials directly approached the IGP Sindh for sending officers for training in America, thus five to six officers were deprived of training abroad.

Bone of contention

The police sources said that the real bone of contention between the Sindh government and the IGP related to transfer and posting and certain other issues.

They said the provincial government had asked for posting of three SSPs and one DIG but the IGP refused it, contending that the posting would be made on “merit”.

Besides, the IG had asked the provincial government for initiating action against 10 to 12 senior police officers on charges of “serious misconduct” but no action was taken.

There were also two instances which apparently aggravated relations.

The sources said that an incident happened with PTI lawmaker Haleem Adil Sheikh in Umerkot, where the SSP concerned registered an FIR against him (Sheikh) allegedly at the behest of PPP minister Taimur Talpur.

The IGP asked the Sindh government to transfer the Umerkot SSP for “misconduct”.

Subsequently, the PTI legislator approached the sessions court concerned, which ordered registering FIRs against the Umerkot SSP and the PPP minister.

The IGP complied with the direction of the court and directed the police to register an FIR against the SSP and the provincial minister, which was not “liked” by the Sindh government.

30pc operational budget slashed

The police sources said the Sindh government had slashed 30pc operational budget of the Sindh police merely due to differences with the IGP.

They termed it an unprecedented decision in the history of the Sindh police. Because of this cut in the budget, the police could not procure equipment etc.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020