LAHORE: Armed robbers are depriving people of money and valuables in the area falling under Gulberg police with impunity, however, instead of cracking down on the criminals, the police officials concerned are allegedly discouraging the reporting of street crime, it has been observed.
A female journalist and her brother are the most recent victims of the armed desperadoes, who have targetted several people visiting eateries on the Main Boulevard in Gulberg. However, the manner in which the police have handled the case raises doubts over the Lahore Police’s claims that the force has changed for real.
Pakistan Today’s Assistant News Editor Rabia Malik and her brother Rashid Malik had just gotten into their car outside Mall-One on Friday night when two men held them at gunpoint.
“One of the men pointed a pistol at my brother and asked him to hand over his wallet and phone, while the other man grabbed my bag after opening the front passenger-side door. The attack was so sudden that I impulsively started screaming and threw the cup of hot coffee that I had just bought from the mall on the man’s face. Taken aback by my reaction, the man let go of my bag and grabbed my arm instead, forcing me out of the car,” said Rabia.
She said that her brother had already handed over his wallet to the robber but on seeing that she was being forcibly taken out of the car, he pushed open the door and struck the robber holding the handgun.
“The scene was witnessed by many people yet no one intervened. However, it did help in a way because the men panicked after seeing people gathering there and fled in a waiting rickshaw without firing a shot,” she said, adding that the robbers were able to take her brother’s wallet with them.
She said that four personnel of the Dolphin Force showed up after sometime when they called the police emergency helpline.
“They initially tried to play down the incident but when I told them that I was a journalist they told us to visit the police station. This was the first time either of us had visited a police station so we were rather confused. The duty officer told us to come in the morning as the SHO was not available so we left. However, when my brother visited the police station on Saturday the duty officer again refused to entertain the application without the SHO’s approval.
“In the third visit, my brother was handed a ‘receipt’ which stated that Rashid had filed a complaint about his lost CNIC. It did not mention the robbery at all!”
The matter was brought to the notice of DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf on Tuesday after police officials concerned kept delaying the registration of the FIR [First Information Report] on one pretext or the other for three days.
Gulberg SHO Babar Ansari at first feigned ignorance about the incident but in a subsequent telephone call he told Pakistan Today that he had ordered his staff to register the FIR “as per the application”.
A Pakistan Today probe has revealed that several people have been robbed in the Mall One area and adjoining roads yet most of the victims have been allegedly discouraged from reporting the incidents by the police personnel.
The manner in which this particular case has been handled by the police vindicates the claims made by some citizens, who spoke to Pakistan Today on the condition of anonymity.