LAHORE: Punjab police department desires closure of its lone external watch, the Directorate of Monitoring, that checks the working of Punjab Highways Patrolling (PHP) posts and officials in the home department, while many say this would mean a carte blanche to the force created during the Punjab government of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
“A request (to this effect) was made to the home department which has discussed it. But there has not been any decision as yet,” said an official on Sunday.
Mr Elahi’s Punjab government had established 342 patrolling posts on the highways in the province, each located every 30km, to help and provide relief to the people travelling on highways in case of any emergency – robbery, road accident, vehicle breakdown or medical requirement.
Operating round the clock, these dedicated posts also provide accommodation and meals to the police officials patrolling their 30km range in special vehicles fitted with trackers.
To ensure that the posts deliver, monitoring teams were constituted and posted in all the nine police regions. Each team, headed by a retired army officer, would monitor the presence and working of the special vehicles through trackers, besides visiting the posts.
Officials said the regional control was withdrawn in 2011 on the request of the then Punjab IGP, replacing it with the Directorate of Monitoring under a director general stationed in Lahore. Having an around 100-member staff, the directorate started satellite monitoring of the patrolling posts from Lahore, also receiving complaints against the highway patrolling police on the toll-free line 1124.
After receiving the complaints, the directorate would send messages to the patrolling posts concerned for redressal. The complaints would be either for seeking help in different kinds of emergency situations or against the staff accused of corruption or dereliction of duty. The patrolling post concerned was bound to convey the action through the activity management system.
The officials said the directorate was the only external monitoring mechanism of the Punjab police that otherwise avoided all such measures provided in the Police Order 2002. They added that of late there were complaints of corruption and accesses against the highway patrolling police.
They said that recently the directorate gave a briefing to the home secretary, explaining that it was also overseeing the working of 42 jails in Punjab, civil defence, Child Protection Bureau and Probation and Parole Department, and should not therefore be weakened or disbanded.
The posts were created at a cost of billions of rupees, they said, regretting that in many cases the equipment of many of these went out of order because of the neglect shown by the previous government, allegedly because the project was launched by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s government.
An official said these posts should be made fully functional for being a cost-effective option to provide relief to the travellers in case of any emergency on the roads in the province and also to curb smuggling, terrorism and other crimes.