LAHORE - Despite sizeable surge in the incidents of extra-judicial killings, the police job is worsening the Punjab province, where more than 105,000 proclaimed offenders (POs) are at large.

During first five months of this year, the police killed 98 criminals in 97 encounters in different parts of the province. Last year, the police had killed 85 criminals in such encounters. Regardless of such killings, there is no respite in the incidents of armed robberies, dacoities, killings, and abductions.

The investigators are unable to track down these criminals wanted to the police in heinous crimes, ranging from the multiple-murders to abduction for ransom.

The police sources say more than 105,000 criminals declared as Pos, are roaming freely in the province. They are striking brazenly and with impunity but the law enforcing agency has failed to arrest them because either the cops are incompetent or they are unwilling to put their lives at stake to fight against the desperate criminals.

No less than 55000 POs are only wanted to the Lahore police in various cases and the investigations police are unable to trace these criminals though they launched search operations and special crackdowns on many occasions.

According to the sources in the Central Police Office, more than 300 armed robberies including house robberies are taking place every day in the largest Punjab province. They say the police are reporting only 20 per cent of the total crimes incidents in order to show “good work” in the official record. The police usually hush up armed robberies which take place in the rural areas and small districts while the complainants are harassed when they approach the police stations for the registration of armed robberies.

The incidents of dacoities, robberies, and auto-lifting have also registered a considerable increase this year while the police are also unable to trace 75 cases of murder.

The big cities like Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, and Multan have virtually become safe-heaven for the gangsters since the cases of killings, kidnappings, robberies, and other heinous crimes are rapidly increasing, thanks to the government for leaving the public at the mercy of the robbers.

What to say about the protection to the lives and property of the common people in the Punjab province where thousands of policemen are deployed to provide security cover to the VVIPs and VIPs. During informal chat, a police source revealed that at least 2000 policemen are deployed on the security duty of the Chief Minister Punjab.

From January to May 2013, the Punjab police reported more than 13500 cases of dacoity, robbery, burglary, and theft. At least 5000 cases of dacoity, robberies, and burglary were reported only in Lahore. The police in the Punjab province also reported more than 2711 cases of cattle-theft during the first five months of this year. The situation indicates a considerable surge in such incidents.

Police also admitted that more than 1027 cases of dacoities, involving five or more than five gunmen, were reported in the province during the same period. More than two dozen people were gunned down as they tried to put up resistance against armed robberies.

The police record reveals that at least 10800 vehicles were either snatched or stolen away from different parts of the province during the first five months of this year, suggesting 20 percent increase in the incidents of auto-lifting if compared to the previous year.

Apart from 2436 murder cases, the police have registered 65 cases of kidnapping for ransom this year so far. No less than 20 cases of kidnappings for ransom are still under investigations. At least 55 cases of gang-rape and 966 incidents of rape were also reported in the province during the first five months and the police are unable to trace most of the cases yet.

Lahore appeared to be the worst crime-hit city, where dozens of citizens are being deprived of their cars and motorcycles on daily basis.  For an instance, dacoits on Saturday robbed seven houses at gunpoint and made off with cash, gold ornaments, and other valuables worth five million rupees besides five cars and nine motorcycles in several successful strikes in the provincial capital.

Contrary to police claims of busting gangs of criminals, the crime data from January to May shows that incidents of robberies and snatching of cars, motorbikes, cell phones, and other valuables are on the rise with every passing day. The victims of armed robberies say the police are part of the problem. They believe the corruption-riddled police get its due share from the criminals involved in crimes against property.  Most interestingly, the police have set up pickets and check-points in every nook and corner of the Punjab but the criminals and proclaimed offenders are freely roaming on the roads to commit crimes with impunity.

The situation is more than an eye-opener for the provincial government since they had pledged police reforms and improvement in the law and order situation during the campaign manifesto in May.