LAHORE: An owner of a stolen car has been receiving e-challans, totaling up to five, at his home address since the theft three years ago, and failing to get it recovered despite bringing the matter into the knowledge of senior officers of police, excise and taxation department and Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA), exposing the flawed system in the city to check theft of vehicles and recover them.
As per police sources, most of the stolen vehicles are either transported to tribal areas or end up in illegal spare parts markets.
According to some expert police officers, the illegal trade of spare parts has been a lucrative business for the crime gangs operating in the provincial metropolis, like elsewhere in Punjab.
However, in the above-mentioned case the stolen car has been running on the roads of the provincial capital for the last three years or so without the police even noticing it, what to talk of its recovery.
Police fail to recover the vehicle despite PSCA cameras pics
Dawn obtained five e-challan slips issued by the Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA), and delivered to the home address of the owner, Mirza Aqib Mustafa, a resident of Amir Road, Shadbagh.
According to the FIR registered with the Misri Shah police station, the car was stolen on Oct 10, 2019, after the owner had parked it near his office. On being called through a call on 15 helpline, the police reached the spot and registered a case after initial investigation.
After repeatedly visiting various police station and offices of senior police officers for the vehicle’s recovery, the owner finally stopped pursuing the case because of the sluggish investigation process and disinterested investigators.
However, Mr Aqib’s hope for his car’s recovery rekindled when he received the first e-challan of Rs500 at his home address, showing the vehicle has been captured by a PSCA camera while violating a traffic signal in Peer Bahar Shah area of Lahore.
Issued on March 11, 2020, the challan slip showed the picture of his car with its registration number (LWD-05-8276) violating the traffic signal on Feb 29, 2020.
“Normally one feels irritated on receiving a traffic fine ticket, but I was excited and happy when I got the e-challan of my stolen car because it rekindled my hope for getting it back,” Aqib told Dawn.
He said he immediately rushed to the police, showed them the e-challan and requested them to take immediate action, adding that he also brought the matter into the knowledge of the DSP concerned.
“The police officer [DSP] assured me that the e-challan would help them to trace and recover my car”, he said.
He said he also visited the Excise and Taxation Department, filed an application and got his car blacklisted to stop its transfer in someone else’s name.
Mirza Saqib added that some three days later, he got another fine ticket of Rs500, showing his car’s location at Y Block, where it was captured violating a traffic signal on Feb 29.
He again reported the matter to the DSP concerned, but to his shock, this time he found the officer unmoved.
The car owner said he also visited the PSCA officials and they too blacklisted his car on his complaint.
“I later moved the court which issued a show-cause notice to the SHO concerned and passed an order to the police authorities to attach salary of the investigation officer of my case,” he said.
The punishment handed down to the police officers, however, brought no relief to him as they did nothing, Aqib said, adding that he made no further efforts to pursue the car theft case in sheer disappointment.
However, after a gap of a year or so, he said, he got yet another e-challan slip on his home address on March 9, 2021, showing his car was captured in Karim Block of Iqbal Town, but he ignored it because of his previous experience with the police.
However, when he got the fourth fine ticket from the PSCA on June 10, 2021, he relaunched efforts to get back the car.
“I visited the PSCA, met officers and requested them to engage National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) as the e-challan showed pictures of two men occupying my car,” he said, adding that his hopes, however, dashed again when Nadra declared that they could not find record of the suspects because of the poor picture visibility.
This also raise questions on the quality of the PSCA cameras installed under a project costing the taxpayers Rs20 billion.
“I received the 5th and the last IC3 e-challan (No”C0263A) on May 21, 2022, showing the car’s location near P&D Chowk in Lahore”, Mr Aqib said. The traffic signal violation was committed on April 26, he said, adding he has decided to abandon all efforts after knowing that many other owners of stolen cars were in the same boat after lodged complaints.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022