Alleged bribery that may cost Islamabad heavily
ISLAMABAD: Last week the Islamabad Police’s intelligence department alerted the Central Police Office about the entry of trucks in the capital without checking and verification during day time due to alleged corruption of the policemen deployed at entrance points. Besides the security lapses, the CPO was also informed that the entry of heavy vehicles is in violation of the security plan made in 2008 immediately after the suicide attack at Marriott Hotel on September 20, 2008, when a 10-wheeler truck carrying over 1,000 kg of explosives had detonated.
Initially, entry of all heavy vehicles was banned, but given that around 4,000 vehicles mostly carrying edibles enter the capital, it meant price-hike and shortage of necessary items, and severe inconvenience to buyers and traders.
Later the heavy vehicles were divided into two categories – contracted transports and ordinary transports – and allowed to enter between 12am and 6am.
The contracted transports were allowed entry after showing permits, while ordinary transporters could enter after verification by the duty officer of the area.
However, as with most security plans the restrictions were gradually eased over time. Even now, if sources at CPO are to be believed, the police are taking the notification lightly.
“The alert sent to CPO was addressed to the Inspector General of Police, and asked for immediate action. The CPO though was casual in his response and forwarded it to Senior Superintendent of Police Operation Wing, but it has yet to be received there after a period of six days,” a police official at CPO told Dawn.
Meanwhile, the same source claimed that the Special Branch did pick up on the information, and mounted intelligence at Islamabad Chowk.
“The initial reports are that the policemen there are making between Rs 500-1000 per truck in return for skipping verification and search. The vehicles on reaching the entry point show a ‘receipt’ and hand over Rs500 usually. Others were allowed to enter for Rs 1,000, but in both cases they were not barred from entering,” he said.
He further alleged that a senior police officer deployed in the area was involved in this violation.
“He owns a filling station near Tarnol which charges extra money for fuel from truck drivers intending to enter the capital. It is there at the fuelling station that the truckers receive the ‘receipt’ which they use as a token at Islamabad Chowk,” the police officer elaborated. (This scribe was unable to independently verify this statement).
Apparently, this practice has been going on for some time and even last year in the month of January, the capital police had swooped on policemen at entry checkpoints who were taking bribes of Rs100 to allow entry to tracks without checking and verification.
Some of them had managed to reach the Red Zone after paying Rs100 to every checkpoint from the entrance.
In fact, a Superintendent of Police (SP) had spotted a truck moving in the highly sensitive area and heading toward Red Zone in the early hours of the day.
The SP along with his staff had chased the vehicle and succeeded to intercept it at Margalla Road some distance from the Red Zone.
During the subsequent interrogation, it was revealed that the truck entered Islamabad without an entry pass for the loading vehicle, and had paid Rs100 to each picket in-charge erected on its way to the highly sensitive area.
Local police officers in the Operation Wing allege that even though the CPO has been made aware of the senior police official’s involvement, it is still being ignored.
“Scores of policemen were suspended and changed from Islamabad Chowk, but the practice of corruption is continuing. The policemen are not only minting money from the trucks but also victimising the drivers of private cars and motorcyclists,” an officer added.
“This is only possible with the involvement of an influential person,” he pointed out.
Given the security risks and the resurgence of sporadic attacks, the city policemen would be better advised to be safe than sorry.