PESHAWAR, Oct 24: Officials of different police stations in the rural circle have expressed reservations over the formation of Awami Lashkars (public forces) and feared that if the law and order situation was not controlled, these volunteer groups in the long run could become headache for the police.

A police official in the Rural Circle, pleading anonymity, told Dawn that volunteer armed groups, who were conducting night-patrolling with the police against the militants, were not following the rules and violating the principles set for them in this regard.

He said the police high-ups had issued permits to the people for using the weapons while patrolling in different suburban localities to discourage the miscreants who were targeting police posts, security forcers and other sensitive installations, but some of the volunteers were found misusing the weapons and brandish them in the public as status symbol.

The official said that the use of weapons was strictly forbidden and those found guilty of violating the laws would be dealt with under the law, but the so-called public forces were formed by the police in a state of compulsion in order to counter militancy through the volunteers.

Many times, he revealed, the people carrying weapons were apprehended for misusing permits issued to them by the capital city police officer (CCPO) Peshawar for jointly patrolling with the local police.

He suggested that the people of one area should not carry weapons into the limits of other police stations. He said the militants would be controlled by using forces against them but in case of ‘mishandling’ the Lashkars it would be difficult to control them.

The official said maximum violations were witnessed in the areas of Badbher, Mathni and Chamkani police stations. The issue was intimated to the concerned high-ups of the department.

Deputy Superintendent Police (DSP) Nisar Khan, however, claimed that the situation was under the police’s control and the volunteers were doing patrolling in accordance with a strategy, adopted for countering militancy.

DSP Khan admitted that some people had violated the rules in Chamkani area, but the station house officer of Chamkani police station had timely warned them to abide by the directives given to them by the concerned officials.

A spokesman for the Frontier police told Dawn that the role of the Lashkars was satisfactory. They were working like peace bodies which had been formed in many districts including Mardan, Kohat, Charsadda, Peshawar, Buner, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Nowshera and Hungo, and the process was in progress in other districts.

He said the Lashkars were formed initially in Lakki Marwat on March 3 this year, when militants had kidnapped a local union council nazim, Malik Idrees. In the Matani area of Peshawar, he said, a lashkar was formed on August 29 and in Daudzai on Oct 9.

The local people, armed with sophisticated weapons, had killed four of the kidnappers and one was arrested. The accused were reportedly Uzbek nationals, who had allegedly killed a resident of the area during a shootout. However, the people had got the nazim released from the militants.

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