Police officers skipping duty in Red Zone


ISLAMABAD: While the district administration withdrew all powers from the police to use force against the marchers, most of the senior police officers were reported to have skipped duties in the Red Zone. Officials in the capital administration and the police said Deputy Commissioner Mujahid Sherdil had ordered the police to only baton charge the protesters that too if necessary. Besides, rubber bullets and weapons to use them were also taken back from the police personnel. The use of teargas shells has also been prohibited.

The officials also said most of the supervisory police officers were skipping duties in the Red Zone on different pretexts.

They said the contingents of the railway police had not reported to their duty spot at Constitution Avenue for the last two days. Besides, the supervisory officers of the Punjab and AJK police also disappeared from the duty spots.

Powers to use force against protesters withdrawn

A decrease of police manpower was also visible on the Constitution Avenue and those present there preferred to remain at a distance from the protesters.

Red dots on the maps show the time and areas where protesters and police clashed on Monday. — Courtesy Google Maps
Red dots on the maps show the time and areas where protesters and police clashed on Monday. — Courtesy Google Maps

Despite directions issued by the available officers, the personnel of the Punjab and AJK police ran backward instead of countering the protesters, said the officials.

They added that only a few dozens policemen obeyed the directions.

The officials said majority of the officers of the capital police had also disappeared from their duties for the last two days. Either they are unwilling to take action against the protesters or do not want to perform duty under the prevailing circumstances.

They said when there was no need to take action against the protesters, the police were directed to use force, but when it was needed the orders were withdrawn.

Under such circumstances, the force is demoralised and not following the orders of their seniors, they added.

Similarly, the policemen from Punjab were performing duties for 36 hours at a stretch. Some of the policemen said their supervisory officers disappeared when their services were required. They also complained about unavailability of food.

The police used force to stop the protesters from reaching the Prime Minster House on Saturday night.

Three of the marchers were killed and hundreds of others injured during the clash.

To avoid any casualties, the police were directed to avoid using force against the protesters.

As a result, when the marchers moved towards the Secretariat from the Cabinet Block on Monday morning, the police decided to retreat.

Earlier, the police under the command of the newly-appointed SSP Asmatullah Junejo along with two reserves of the Punjab police intercepted the marchers near the Secretariat.

However, the Punjab police personnel abandoned the SSP, who was leading them, and fled back when the protesters charged on them, a police official said, adding the protesters beat the SSP with batons, kicks and punches till his security guards rescued him. One of the guards of the SSP was also critically injured.

Later, the police retreated to the Margalla Road from the Constitution Avenue, letting the protesters storm the Pakistan Television centre and the Secretariat.

After retreating, the police fired teargas shells from the edge of the Margalla Road to disperse the protesters even though they had been directed by the capital administration not to use teargas shells.

The Rangers reached the PTV building and got it vacated from the protesters. Later, army troops also reached there and took control of the premises.

The army deployed at the Secretariat closed the doors leading towards different blocks. But the protesters occupied the main entrance of the Secretariat and the road leading towards the PM House.

In the evening, some personnel of the Punjab police provoked the protesters by firing teargas shells at them. In response, the protesters pushed the police to the Punjab House at Margalla Road.

In the meantime, the police and the capital administration wireless communication system started repeating the orders that the use of teargas was not allowed.

However, there was no senior officer to control the policemen.

The protesters trapped a few policemen and beat them. One of them was beaten a few feet away from the army and Rangers personnel but no one rescued him.

An ambulance, which came to pick the injured, was not allowed by the protesters to shift him to hospital. Later, he was taken away in a private vehicle.