Police Act 1861 not workable to deal with crimes of 21st century: AD Khowaja

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Inspector General Police A.D. Khowaja has said that the Police Act 1861 was not workable at all in dealing with crimes of 21st century hence, this more than 150 years old Act, has to be replaced with a new Police Act which must ensure operational and administrative independence to police department. Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Tuesday, IG Sindh requested Karachi Chamber to advocate this demand to replace the obsolete Police Act 1861 with a new Police Act which must focus on transforming police from ‘police force’ to ‘police services’. 

In response, Chairman BMG Siraj Kassam Teli agreed to fully support IG’s demand for new Police Act in lieu of the obsolete Police Act 1861 which will be immediately taken up by the Karachi Chamber. Karachi City Police Chief Mushtaq Maher, Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Vice Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, Former Presidents KCCI AQ Khalil and Younus Muhammad Bashir, Chairman of Law & Order Sub-Committee Mansoor Ahmed and others were present on the occasion.

AD Khowaja also advised Karachi Chamber to form a focal committee in association with Police Department in order to jointly discuss and identify law and order issues, besides devising strategy to deal with numerous issues particularly the rising street crimes. He further said that in order to deal with politicization of police department, he has taken some irreversible steps, of which the most important step is the recruitment of officers which is now being done by the Pakistan Army in association with CPLC and only those officers were being recruited purely on the basis of merit who qualify NTS exams.

He informed that a batch of 4,000 officers will be completing their training by Pakistan Army on February 10, 2017 whereas another batch of 15,000 officers will be sent for training on February 15, 2017. This particular step, besides dealing with the issue of politicization, will provide some of the best and well-trained officers to police department, he added.

AD Khowaja further informed that all police stations across Karachi were currently being equipped with a reasonable Reporting Room to facilitate public which will be completed by June 2017 whereas the Driving License Office in Clifton has become completely automated, resulting in improving its efficiency. “We are also taking steps to improve other driving license facilities all over Sindh and it is our desire that the licenses issues from Sindh should be accepted globally”, he added. 

Referring to President KCCI’s remarks, IG Police immediately ordered to grant 6 hours of leniency period to those citizens who were not carrying original documents. “No FIR or legal action will immediately be taken against such commuters and if they produce the original documents within six hours, they will be set free”, he assured. Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli stated that any officer including SHOs, DSPs, SSPs, and DIGs etc., who have the intent and strong faith, would surely be able to improve the performance of police department within the available resources and under the present circumstances.

He was of the view that limited number of police force, political pressures, low salaries, lack of funds and other excuses by police department may all be valid but, despite all these challenges, the police officers can deliver positive results if they discharge their duties more dedicatedly and honestly. “The existing performance of police department can be doubled in the prevailing circumstances only if the officers work faithfully and honestly”, he added.

Chairman BMG, while recalling his journey of trade politics since 1992, said that throughout his services to the business and industrial community of Karachi from Site Association in 1992 and from Karachi Chamber since 1998, he has been hearing about these issues and excuses from time to time whereas the ground reality remains the same as no positive change has been witnessed in the policing system which was really worrisome for the business and industrial community.  

Referring to the state-of-the-art technologies being used in United Kingdom to track anyone through SIM card, he stressed that such technology should also be acquired by Sindh Police which is intelligent enough to track down any culprit within 2 hours by swiftly analyzing all the SIM Cards being used within a specific radius of the crime scene.  

Unfortunately, the vested interests were hesitant to introduce such efficient technologies in Pakistan in order to hide their own embezzlements, he added.

Referring to reckless driving particularly by motorcycle riders on the streets of Karachi, Siraj Teli stressed that a driving license campaign must immediately be initiated in order to encourage people to avail a valid driving license. Nobody can dare to drive in any other country around the world without a valid driving license but unfortunately, majority of the commuters in Karachi do not hold driving licenses and are totally unaware about the basic traffic rules which causes severe traffic mess all over the city.

Urging the authorities to take strict action against such commuters who don’t possess driving licenses, he advised that at least 10 such commuters should be put behind bars each day on charge of driving without a license which, if done, would yield positive results and encourage people to avail driving license but these driving licenses should only be issued if the applicant qualifies the required tests which have to be made more stringent.

Expressing deep concerns over politicizing of police department, Vice Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala said at least 30 percent of Sindh Police was politicized which was the basic reason behind the department’s poor performance. He urged the IG to highlight this pressing issue and raise voice against politicization of police department at all available platforms.

He also underscored the need to introduce police reforms which was the only way to improve policing in Karachi. He suggested that police officers should be given a specific deadline to deal with street crimes in their respective areas. Any failure to deal with the situation within the deadline should result in either dismissal or penal action against the concerned officer which would give good results, he said, adding that the black sheep in the police department, who were responsible for defaming the entire department, should be given exemplary punishment. 

Earlier, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, in his welcome address, said that Karachi remained the victim of lawlessness in the past but the situation was much better nowadays thanks to the ongoing Karachi Operation by Police and Rangers. However, the citizens continue to suffer badly on the streets of Karachi due to rising street crimes which have to be tackled seriously and an effective strategy must be devised to deal with this issue. 

Referring to the harassment being caused by police to the poor and innocent citizens, he requested the IG to take serious notice of the situation and strictly order all police stations across Karachi to refrain from immediately lodging FIRs against those commuters who were not carrying original documents. “A leniency time period of at least 2 hours should be allowed to such commuters so that they could produce the original documents whereas legal action should only be taken if the original documents were not produced within 2 hours”, he added. He advised that the Police officers must remain highly alert at those locations where development work was currently underway which would ensure smooth flow of traffic and minimize street crimes. Shamim Firpo also demanded strict action against violators of traffic signals and one-way rule which were the two major reasons for severe traffic jams in different localities every day.

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