LAHORE: A virtual meeting of police officers held on Tuesday witnessed a pindrop silence when Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani lashed out at senior police officers for causing embarrassment to the department following recent incidents of security lapses across the province. He was particularly upset about the sexual assault of a woman by 400 men at Minar-i-Pakistan on Independence Day.
Mr Ghani lamented that the woman and other callers made 36 calls following two major incidents of violence, but the police failed to respond on time. The IGP also expressed concern over the major security lapse when a brother of an MPA was shot dead at the wedding ceremony of the latter’s son in Defence Housing Authority in the presence of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.
An officer privy to the developments during the video link meeting told Dawn that this was the first time the IGP had snubbed senior officers, who did not offer any counter arguments to avoid the wrath of the chief. The meeting was attended by all district police officers, city police officers, regional police officers, the Lahore capital city police officer and other senior cops from the Central Police Office. The official said the IGP lashed out at the field officers and warned the senior officers that in the future they would have to face harsh punishments over any security lapse, negligence or unprofessional behavior, as was witnessed in the Greater Iqbal Park case.
Mr Ghani shared several points with the meeting participants that he believed led to the police’s negligence in responding to the sexual assault on the woman TikToker. He said 36 emergency calls were made during the harrowing incident as well as the previous night, but the police’s reaction was disappointing to say the least. He told the meeting that it was a matter of serious concern that an incidence of violence was reported on the night of Aug 13 when scores of youngsters had stormed into the Greater Iqbal Park, damaged property and created panic. The police neither took action to maintain law and order nor was any case lodged in this regard, the IGP lamented.
The next day -- Aug 14, the TikToker was sexually assaulted at the same venue and the officers remained negligent even then, leaving her at the mercy of hundreds of offenders. Police officers from the station house officer concerned to the senior command failed to respond to the complaints of the woman on time, he stressed. The IGP said he personally contacted the officers when the matter came into his notice and asked them to lodge a case.
There was no excuse for the police’s failure, unprofessional behaviour and delayed response to the woman. He announced some changes to the policies, saying senior police officers from the assistant superintendent of police to those holding top positions must prepare themselves for accountability over gross negligence and delayed response to such incidents, especially violence against women.