LAHORE, March 3: Police authorities, though frequently complaining of staff shortages, are considering either to disband or reform the volunteer force -- Police Qaumi Razakars (PQR) – launched some four and a half decades ago to assist police in filed duties, after failing to root out corruption and mismanagement in their ranks. Officials believe the ‘force’, in spite of costing millions of rupees to the provincial exchequer annually, has almost become dysfunctional, besides being a sourced of corruption and mismanagement in police ranks across the province.
The role of PQRs in district police is diminishing day by day and their performance touching the lowest ebb as police authorities concerned are neither making vigorous efforts to improve performance of the force nor using it for the core job it was meant for.
A meeting presided over by former IGP on March 7, 2012 directed the vigilance DIG to monitor PQRs and ensure vigilance in districts periodically and submit a report.
All filed officers were also directed to make payments of monthly stipend/TA to PQR personnel through cross cheques. It was also decided to make a proposal for new police lines at the existing PQR lines at Kotwali.
Sources, however, said neither the decisions were implemented in letter and spirit nor the revised procedure for giving allowance to razakars was followed.
A couple of high-level departmental inquiries held at different levels have unearthed misuse of PQR payments by senior officers and disbursement of the amount among ‘ghost’ razakars. This eventually prompted the officers to suggest disbandment of the PQR because of its poor performance and instead raising additional force as per Police Order 2002 for assisting the police in the field. Majority razakars work part time for police, receiving either monthly allowance without doing any duty or indulge in illegal activities like raising unauthorised pickets and minting money.
Except a couple of districts, no filed police officer seems to be bothered about using razakars for assisting police in patrolling, picketing and special law and order duties.
Sources privy to the police correspondences told Dawn that most of the filed officers had not yet carried exercise of calculating sanctioned strength of PQRs as per directions issued by the previous police chief in Feb last year.
The source said PQR had virtually lost its utility because of non-seriousness, mismanagement and corruption in the department.
According to official statistics, there are currently 24,613 razakars with the Punjab police and their annual budget under TA head is Rs350 million and under uniform head Rs170m.
The revised daily allowance for a razakar is currently Rs200; for section commander it is Rs250, platoon commander Rs275, company commander Rs300, district commander Rs325, senior commander Lahore Rs500, and Punjab commander gets Rs600 a day.
The instructions issued by the top police office last year to all city police officers (CPOs), DPOs and the capital city police officer (CCPO) Lahore said: “According to the West Pakistan Qaumi Razakars Rule 1966, Rule 20, one or more platoon of QR shall be raised. Each platoon shall ordinarily consist of three sections, each section comprising 10 razakars, headed by a section commander. If there are more than one platoons they shall be combined to form a company. Each platoon shall be headed by a Platoon Commander and each company shall be under the command of a Company Commander.”
“Police stations may be divided into four categories and accordingly sanctioned strength of razakars may be worked out. For A category, the sanctioned force of executive staff should be more than 100 and two platoons be raised; sanctioned force (75-100) and one platoon for B category; sanctioned force (50-75) and half platoon for C category; and sanctioned staff less than 50 and 1 section for D category.”
Sources said the verification procedure was followed by a few districts, including Okara and Sheikhupura, where a fresh standard operating procedure (SOP) for recruitment and training of razakars had also been issued. They said Okara DPO Dr Haider Ashraf was currently getting the SOP implemented through the SDPOs and SHOs who were utilising the force of 280 officials for various assignments.
An inquiry held by Lahore police into planned disbursement of Rs12.5 million among ‘on record’ 4,000 razakars of Lahore police failed to trace many of those who were supposed to be recipients of the amount last year.
The inquiry officer, DIG Ahmad Mubarik Ahmad, reportedly found several anomalies in the list of PQR personnel and transparency in disbursements. The officer suggested disbandment of the force and the Lahore police had to reimburse the amount.
A police officer serving in the field told Dawn that razakars most of the time didn’t join their duty due to lack of supervision by the DPO concerned and corrupt practices at police station level.
He said district commander (equal to DSP) followed by company commander (inspector), platoon commander (sub inspector), section commander (ASI) and razakars (foot constable) often bribed the police officials concerned for showing their fake attendance and received their monthly stipend for doing nothing.
He said razakars had been booked in several cases for setting up ‘pickets’ on their own and minting money from unsuspecting citizens who most of the time took them for ‘real cops’.
He said the police authorities needed to streamline the PQR force and utilise it for the field duties in case of staff shortages.
Punjab Additional IG (Welfare) and Finance Sarmad Saeed said the PQRs had been devolved to district-level, but policy and guidance was generally issued by the Central Police Office.
“RPOs and DPOs have been advised to monitor performance, hire and fire, and train them (razakars) in the Police Lines. The CPO transfers only the executive staff who are responsible for training and administration of PQR.” “The departmental action is taken against the executive staff by the CPO. The RPOs and DPOs take action on any complaint of corruption or misconduct. The CPO appoints the District Commanders of PQRs on the recommendations of the RPOs.”
Saeed said some police officers were of the view that the PQR should be disbanded while others wanted reforms.
The recommendations in this regard were under consideration and shall be presented in the meeting of the management committee, headed by the IGP, he said, adding if some complaint of serious nature came to his notice, the CPO also intervened and the AIG Welfare might depute an officer to look into it.
He was of the view that the PQR personnel could be transformed into community police officers or beat officers, only after hiring young, educated and motivated people for the slots.