Bannu RPO transferred on ‘political pressure’

Published August 9, 2020
The police department asked  Afridi on Friday evening to report to the central police office. — Online
The police department asked Afridi on Friday evening to report to the central police office. — Online

PESHAWAR: The transfer of Bannu regional police officer Abdul Ghafoor Afridi allegedly on the pressure of transport minister Shah Mohammad Wazir has stirred up a controversy.

Official sources claimed that the minister wanted to get a case of kidnapping for ransom registered against a police official, who had a scuffle with his son lately, but the RPO refused to meet the demand leading to his removal.

The police department asked Mr Afridi on Friday evening to report to the central police office.

He was made the commandant of the Hangu Police Training College on Saturday.

The department transferred Kohat RPO Awal Khan and posted him as the new Bannu RPO. When contacted, minister Shah Mohammad Wazir said he won’t comment on the matter.

Minister refuses to offer comment, says satisfied with police probe body

He said as a transport minister, he had nothing to do with the police department.

“I’m satisfied with the inquiry committee appointed by the provincial police chief,” he said.

A police source claimed that usually, such transfers and postings were not made ahead of the Islamic month of Muharram.

He said the sudden transfer of the Bannu RPO had come as a shock to most police officers and that it clearly showed political pressure behind it.

A police source close to Mr Afridi told Dawn that the RPO’s transfer had come after several days long tug-of-war between the police department and the minister.

He said the saga began after a scuffle took place between the transport minister’s son and the brother of a police constable on July 24.

The source said a boy riding a motorcycle had a minor accident with the vehicle of the minister’s son, so a guard of the latter slapped across the face of the boy a couple of times.

He said after the minister’s son left, the boy called in his brother, who was a police constable, and they both followed the vehicle and stopped it near the entry point of the Bannu cantonment area. After heated exchanges, the cop slapped across the face of the minister’s son several times.

The source said the minister complained to the local police officers against the cop, who was arrested and booked under Section 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code over criminal intimidation.

He said initially, the action pleased the minister but a couple of days later, he demanded the registration of a case of kidnapping for ransom against the cop.

The source said the minister claimed the people, who thrashed his son, wanted to kidnap his son, so they should be booked under Section 365-A of PPC, which deals with the kidnapping or abduction for extorting property or money.

He said the police department refused to meet the demand saying the incident took place next to a military checkpoint and a few yards away from the RPO’s residence and Bannu cantonment police station and it was a scuffle and not a kidnapping attempt.

The source wondered how two people riding a bike could try to kidnap a minister’s son neat a military checkpoint.

“The minister wanted to include a very strict section of the law against the constable, which the police flatly refused. That is was the apparent reason for the RPO’s transfer,” he claimed.

Sources close to Mr Afridi told Dawn that the officer while serving as the district police officer in Bannu in 2013 was also transferred after he developed differences with the same minister.

They said the minister was angry at the cop chasing and trashing his son and considered the incident to be an insult to him.

The provincial police chief, Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, refused to comment on the matter.

Our correspondent from Lakki Marwat adds: Several political leaders flayed the RPO’s transfer over the alleged political pressure.

ANP district chief Mali Ali Sarwar claimed that RPO Afridi was removed on the interference of provincial minister Shah Mohammad Khan.

He said the unjustified transfer showed that the government was using the police for own political interests.

The other political leaders demanded the immediate withdrawal of the RPO transfer orders.

They said Mr Afridi was punished for cracking down on drug barons, proclaimed offenders, extortionists and other criminals and his transfer had spread unrest among the people of Lakki Marwat, Bannu and North Waziristan districts.

The political leaders said Mr Afridi was punished for cracking down on drug barons, proclaimed offenders, extortionists and other criminals and his transfer on political grounds had spread unrest among the people of Lakki Marwat, Bannu and North Waziristan districts.

They said the chief minister should take note of the matter and ask the provincial police officer to reverse the transfer of the RPO, under whose leadership, the police controlled crimes and maintained peace in Bannu division, especially in Lakki Marwat district.

The political leaders called for an immediate halt to political interference in the affairs of the police and other departments.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2020

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