Taxila-Local police have ignored instructions of Inspector General of Police Punjab for removal of check posts.

While Presiding RPOs and DPOs Conference at Central Police Office On May 5, the IG Punjab Captain (R) Arif Nawaz Khan ordered entry and exit point check posts at all districts should be removed immediately but it seems that the provincial police chief’s orders have not reached Taxila as so far the local police have not removed the check posts on GT road near Wah Garden Bridge, Margalla Hills, Jandial check post on Khanpur road and Hattar road near Ahatta where police officials are utilising their powers from vehicles’ paper checking to food department and custom laws mining money from travellers travelling on intercity and inter-district routes on different contexts unabated.

A video got viral on social media on Saturday which was subsequently aired by different private news channels in which a tractor trolley driver accused cops posted at the check post on GT road near Wah Garden Bridge of not only keeping his brother in illegal confinement to pressurise him to extort illegal gratification but also thrashed him. In the video, recorded by some passerby, the victim claimed that the cops thrashed him when he refused to pay them “chai pani”.

As Eid-ul-Fitr draws near, the complaints regarding unnecessary checking of citizens by the police have also risen in number. Locals say that the policemen have established check points at every nook and corner of the twin cities of Taxila and Wah, who then extort bribes after checking the documents of the vehicles. It has been observed that young motorcyclists are the main targets at these check posts, where the police are seen openly extorting money from them on different pretexts.

Within Taxila, Margalla check post on the GT road, Jandial check post on Khanpur road, Bhallar check post on Hattar road, the entry and exit points of Lalarukh and Lalazar are the main operational points of the police, where they have been seen fleecing the motorists. Scenes of motorcyclists exchanging hot words with the cops can be seen from dawn to dusk. People from different walks of life, especially college and university students; have complained that the local police have launched a money-making spree to collect illegal gratifications on the pretext of “Eidi”. They complained that the policemen have established check points at different spots and are fleecing the commuters on pretext of checking their documents.

Kashif Khan, a motorcyclist, told The Nation that cops posted at the said check post took over as traffic cop, and is taking money from every motorcyclist who heads towards Wah. “Even if you have all the documents, you have to pay Rs100 to Rs200 as Eidi, otherwise you will be publically humiliated,” said Khan. Another youth, Ahsan Talib told this reporter that hundreds of youth come to Khanpur Dam on weekend and they have to pay money at two points, once at Margalla check post and then at Jandial, where the police have launched their “Eidi drive”.

A commuter Faizan Ahmed Khan told this reporter that he was intercepted at the check post of Margalla Hills while he was on his way home along with women members of the family 2 days ago. “As I stopped my car, a policeman without any name badge on his chest came and switched off his car and asked for registration book. He critically examined the book and asked irrelevant questions about my journey and residence. Though I satisfied the cop with plausible answers to his queries, he was reluctant to leave me and finally asked for bribe,” he said. He said that the officials there exploited the situation, especially in the night. It has also been observed that most policemen deployed at these pickets have no name badges on their uniforms and those wearing belts with their assigned numbers pull their shirts out of their trousers to hide their identity. Usually, these policemen make Rs100 to Rs500 from a single person, but they would take their demand up keeping in view the nature of the case and the person(s) they are dealing with.

“If Police officials are serious in cubing crimes, they should root out various dens openly working in the area under their very nose,” Saeed Siddiqui, a human rights activist said while commenting on the sorry state of affairs of pickets in Taxila.

Taxila Sub Divisional Police Officer DSP Masood Mazhar when contacted said that he had not got any order or directive from the senior officials about removing the pickets. He said that such pickets played the role of front line in curbing smuggling of drugs and illegal weapons from one area to other. He said that due to prevailing law and order situation, pickets on the entry and exit points are need of the hour.