Change they need
While there is a debate on police uniform, there are opinions that it’s education, and humane working hours that are likely to affect attitudes
By Mazhar Khan Jadoon
Dozens of club-wielding angry protesters blocked a road in Misri Shah on the night of April 10, burning tyres and blocking traffic. This time the charged group was not out on the road wailing against loadshedding or hike in fuel prices, rather they were marching towards the Misri Shah police station to thrash some policemen there to avenge the killing of a youth who was shot in the head by cops at a checkpoint. This is not the first time hapless masses took to street condemning trigger-happy Punjab police.
One comes across a very common sight on city roads that cops of patrolling squad are ducking behind a wall or a tree waiting for the right moment to hound and fleece a motorcyclist or a commuter. These cops are always at the wrong place at the wrong time to wrong innocent citizens. The only thing they won’t do is their duty — to give people protection and some sense of security.
After exhausting all other potential and probable ways to rein in the most dreaded Punjab police, Inspector General of Punjab Police Haji Habeebur Rehman has come up with another idea to make his force people-friendly — change the colour of police uniform. The Punjab police are notorious for brutality and violence and the mere sight of black shirts and yellow pants, sends shivers down the spine of humble and law-abiding citizens.
“It is the dark uniform which makes them grumpy and hot-headed,” Rehman had told a press conference at Rahim Yar Khan District Police Office (DPO). “Punjab has a hot climate and black shirts absorb extra heat in summer and make policemen cranky and ill-tempered.”
The IGP must have put in a lot of effort to research and discover the impact of colours on human mind and body. Black colour is considered authoritative and powerful because it evokes strong emotions. Negativity, sometime, is also bracketed with black colour. Popular phrases like ‘black sheep’ and ‘black day’ have been coined in line with the traits of black colour.
Colour therapist Dr Mohsin Mahmood supports the police chief’s idea, contending that the colour of police uniform should be changed if you want an amiable police. “Black shirts cause aggression and gloom. It is also a mourning colour.” Dr Mahmood believes yellow colour of pants causes depression as it is a jaundiced colour. “Red badges also cause violence and anger.”
What if not black and khaki? The Inspector General had constituted a four-member committee to propose alternative colours for police uniforms. He has also sought input from regional police officers. Reportedly, the proposal has drawn a mixed reaction from force within the department — some saying it will help them win public support while others saying it is waste of time and money.
While the search for a more amiable and friendly uniform is on, the colour therapist suggests that the uniform should be either light blue or light green and the colour of badges should be golden.
Citizens, however, are reluctant to buy the idea. Some of the citizens TNS talked to spurned the plan, saying instead of changing the uniform, police need to be educated, trained and taught ethics to improve its performance. “A wolf in the garb of sheep will be more dangerous. Police should change their behaviour, not the uniform,” opines Muhammad Akram, a businessman.
The rotten thana culture has its roots in colonial history that used police as a brutal force to crush and tame people into obedience. Rampant corruption and political exigencies also have had their share in ruining the image of police.
The Punjab police has also set up 100 model police stations with educated officers and latest gadgets — CCTV cameras, computers, latest mobile phones and vehicle trackers — in a bid to change the traditional thana culture and to strengthen the trust and confidence between the public and the police.
“People are scared of police. Instead of serving and protecting the poor masses, our police only serve their political bosses and criminals,” laments a school teacher, Akhtar Ali. “Uniform will not change their mindset and behaviour. The move will only cause the police budget to swell manifold as changing the uniform for the whole force of the most populated province will cost the government dearly.” Criminals are more comfortable to deal with police while law-abiding citizens avoid even passing in front of a police station, opines Ali.
Dr Aasia Mujtaba, a psychologist, thinks changing the uniform will, somehow, help revive the image of police. “Black colour evokes aggression and is used in aggressive games as it promotes competition. Dark colours are gloomy and should not be used in uniforms.”
How does all this exercise make a low ranker feel different? A policeman, standing under the scorching sun for the last two hours to salute a VVIP passing by, laments “give us some relief in our long duty hours. We need humane duty hours, not a change in uniform. It’s not the black shirt that makes us cranky rather it’s our long duty hours without any break that kill us.”
Dr Mujtaba says, “People will psychologically respond in a better way to a police in new attire. We tend to appreciate change and people will be more friendly towards a light blue or white uniform. White colour represents peace while light blue colour evokes a soothing effect on nerves.” She, however, says the new uniform will change the view and perception of people and not that of police. “Education and better training is the key to better police.”
It was a day when I was late for home, was still at the office, when one of my children called to inform me they had a puppy in their care that needed to be shown to a Vet as every time it attempted to stand on his legs, he fell down with a cry.
The children learnt from a shopkeeper in our street that a man came in a car, got down from it with a puppy that was wearing a collar, put him quietly in a corner of the street and rode off.
Two little boys who are our neighbours, were greatly attracted to the abandoned soul and took him to their home. They stayed around the puppy so long as their mother was away but the moment she came home she told them the dog was not going to stay there and they should take the dog back to the place from where they had picked but another child, their next door neighbour took pity on the puppy and took him to his place. But there too, his mother also refused to take the poor fellow in. We live in a neighbourhood with hardly any grounds. I don’t blame my neighbours.
To me what is disturbing is the behaviour of the puppy’s owner who conveniently got rid of the poor animal when he met with an accident and broke a leg. Nobody knows what happened. The children’s attitude was heartening though. All the children who saw the puppy were eager to help him feel better. The other child passed on the puppy to my children, pleading help.
At my office a colleague was kind enough to get me phone number of a vet. When I reached home I found out a lovely, innocent white puppy in a pen in the courtyard with all the children around him. Yes, the children had prepared quite a pen for the puppy. They had placed a pillow beneath him, had taken off the collar from his neck to make him feel comfortable and had fed him well. It was quite a sight. Humans are by nature kind. Children who are themselves innocent, are naturally good but as we grow older we get selfish.
Anyhow, I and the children took the puppy to the vet who checked him and declared he had a broken leg which would heal if the puppy remained confined to a place and his movement was restricted for a month. He administered an injection after which we brought the puppy home. My children insisted on keeping the puppy in their room which I resisted and told them to keep it in the corridor next to their room but when I woke up early next morning the puppy’s pen was next to my children’s bed and I found out that two of the boys were awake since three in the morning. They had been feeding and comforting the puppy because “he had been crying with pain.”
Fortunately, I knew someone at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences and called him to seek help. I could not think of keeping a puppy at home as we already had five cats. I was asked to come over with the animal. Again, I and the children were there at the UVAS with the puppy where they have a pet centre. They were kind enough to take the dog in their care and relieved us of the responsibility of looking after the poor animal.
I heaved a sigh of relief because so long as the puppy stayed in my house, the children could think of doing nothing else other than staying around him. But this convinced me all children should get a pet – that develops caring instinct in them.
* ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) V3 Foundation Training at Ken House, Lahore Starting from 14th Apr, 2012
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* 100 Ghazals of Maulana Rumi
Hast-o-Neest Centre for Traditional Art & Culture Invites you to its Monthly Saturday Sitting with Janab Ahmed Javed Sahib (Director, Iqbal Academy Pakistan) 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Last Saturday of every month
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Lahoris are known to be the biggest consumers of meat, next only to the people of Gujranawala for whom it is as essential as air and water. The last one month was a testing time for them as a large number of butchers went on strike and refused to get big animals (beef) slaughtered at the newly established Lahore Meat Complex (LMC) at Shahpur Kanjran, a place situated beyond Thokar Niaz Beg at Multan Road.
Beef if available during this period was procured from distant slaughterhouses or through illegal slaughtering at private places and in the absence of veterinary doctors and other government officials.
One of the objections raised by protesting butchers was that it was a tedious task for them to carry their animals to the far-off LMC to get them slaughtered and then take the meat back to the wholesale markets and shops. Potential loss of jobs in the presence of this highly mechanised facility was another threat.
On the other hand, the officials of LMC managed by Punjab Agriculture and Meat Company (PAMCO) assert the step has been taken to ensure that consumers get healthy meat and the butchers are saved from extortionists who claim themselves to be their leaders. The meat processed at the facility, they claim, is declared fit for export and therefore should be available to the locals at an affordable rate. Loss of jobs, they say, is out of question as manual support is needed for slaughtering and hanging pieces of meat with machine hooks etc but only those butchers will be accommodated who go through training courses organised by PAMCO.
While both these stakeholders are busy countering each other’s propaganda, PAMCO has signed agreements with the district government under which it will manage all the slaughterhouses in the city. As per agreement, the district government will launch a crackdown against illegal slaughtering in the city.
The company will gradually convert all the existing slaughterhouses into wholesale markets and slaughtering of cattle and sheep will only be allowed at the meat complex, says Dr Asif Sahi, project head, meat production at PAMCO.
Explaining the concept, he says the concept of food safety has become as important as food security and the main purpose of this project is to provide people meat which is free of harmful residues and hazardous contents and comes from a healthy animal. As meat processing will be done according to international standards, there would be no compromise on quality. “We’ll ultimately ensure no medicine or injection is given to an animal during the two-week time preceding its slaughtering. It’s a proven fact that residual effects of medicines stay in meat for at least two weeks.”
Asif tells TNS the protesting butchers demand that slaughtering at LMC should only be for export purposes and the old slaughter houses must feed the city. “Do the foreigners only have the right to eat healthy meat?” he questions.
Jamiat-ul-Quresh Punjab President Sheikh Anwar Saeed, who is the biggest opponent of LMC, terms the project a waste of money and a scheme to oblige a few. He alleges the government for needlessly spending Rs 1.28 billion and usurping agricultural land worth Rs 5 billion or more to make easy money through over-invoicing.
Anwar tells TNS the animals have to go through excruciating pain at LMC as they are administered electric shock to make them enter a designated area. The machines are also defective as the blood does not properly leave the body, he insists. Anwar is also concerned about the loss of livelihood to hundreds of butchers who he says know nothing else than slaughtering.
Sahi laughs at the allegations terming them irreverent talk of a set of people who have made millions by hijacking the slaughterhouse at Bund Road for decades. LMC, he says, has been built with the co-operation of Iran in line with International Food Standards (IFS), Halal, ISO and other certifications and a major part of meat processed here will be exported. “Proper tendering was done for the project so there is no chance of corruption.”
While some butchers are staying away from LMC, others have started going to the place for slaughtering their animals. Muhammad Saleem, an employee at a Samanabad meat shop, tells TNS they face no problem as government has shifted markets of live animals to Shahpur Kanjran. “Now we buy animals from there and take them to the complex which is at a walking distance. The slaughtering fee is Rs 500 and the meat is transported at all the wholesale markets free of cost.”
The private company which has won the contract of running LMC intends to manage free transportation costs from its export earnings. The company hopes by saving butchers these costs and keeping the alleged extortionists out of the loop, the government will be able to contain meat prices.
Binyamin, a PAMCO spokesman, challenges no one who sees a sick animal slaughtered at the old slaughterhouse and the unhygienic conditions there can dare to eat the meat of that animal. “It’s unfortunate that only the end-of-career big animals are brought for slaughtering and they cannot even walk properly.”
He shares it with TNS that PAMCO is looking after supply side as well and has stationed ante-mortem and post-mortem veterinary doctors at the LMC lab. “These doctors will ensure no sick animal is cleared. In case only a part, for example liver is found to be carrying cyst, it will be burnt in the incinerators”. It is impossible to violate rules as foolproof detection systems have been installed there as per various certification requirements, he adds.
He says PAMCO will develop special breeds for meat procurement purposes which will have high meat-to-bone ratio. “What has happened so far is that the cows and buffaloes that can no more procreate and give milk, and bulls that cannot plough the fields breed and pull carts etc reach the slaughterhouses.”
Binyamin tells TNS they are taking students of girls colleges like Kinnaird College and Lahore College to the facility to show how hygienic the conditions are as they are the women who will ultimately take charge of their kitchens. “Believe me no worker who has not passed the required tests can work on the facility. They have to trim their nails every other day. At old slaughter house meat is allowed to be contaminated with urine and excreta of the slaughtered animal.”
Shahid Mahmood, a whole-seller in Akbari Grain Market, fears the new facility will boost export of meat at the cost of local consumers who are unable to afford it. A balance will have to be drawn like fixing only a percentage of total production here for export, he suggests.
I have countless fond childhood memories of my cousins and I hastening to run outside our house with fistfuls of coins as soon as the catchy jingle of a Hico or Walls ice cream truck was heard. From the simple joy derived from feeling the chilled, pungent taste of an orange flavoured ice-lolly on a hot summer day, ice cream has grown to play an essential, multifaceted role in my life.
Going to eat ice cream has, to an extent, become a social activity. Meeting up with my friends at Hot Spot, a place frequented mostly by teenagers, for its scrumptious concoctions, chocolate mud pies and sundaes, has become a matter of routine. The more exclusive Cosa Nostra, with its wonderful array of delectable Italian gelato flavours chocolate ice cream with chunks of After Eight, bits of toblerone or nutella, to name a few also remains a favourite.
The great thing about ice cream is the growing variety and choice being offered. When I’m feeling health conscious, for instance, or am just in the mood for something light, frozen yoghurt, another form of ice cream which has recently found popularity in Lahore with the opening of eateries like Tutti Frutti and TCBY, is my top choice. The fresh fruity flavours are a delight, especially in the summer. In addition, the former reminds you of something straight off the streets of Europe, with self-service and ice cream being sold according to weight being its unique features. Whenever I’m shopping in Liberty Market, I make sure to get a Robbiya cone sold just around the corner. Made with pure dairy in chocolate and vanilla flavours, one can almost taste the freshness. Furthermore, on our way back from school, it is common for my younger sister to buy a gola, which, with its vibrant mesh of colours, has always fascinated her. Also, foreign brands like Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Das are now available at most departmental stores. Although highly priced, they offer a real treat for ice cream lovers, offering new and unique flavours that most local brands do not yet have.
Ice cream brings together families, too. Going to eat traditional desserts like Kulfi and Falooda in Gawal Mandi, or savouring the rich pistachio and mango flavours of Chaman on the Mall Road with my grandparents is one of my favourite pastimes, and indeed, a novelty. Watching them revisit their youth and reminisce about a time when things used to be simpler, when ice cream was made from pure, unadulterated dairy products and eating ice cream was solely for the sheer love of ice cream, is always a thought-provoking experience.
It is true, also, that without an accompanying scoop of vanilla ice cream, delicious desserts like molten lava cakes, bread puddings and apple pies would not achieve their mouthwatering taste.
Fortunately for me, I live in Lahore, a city of colours and abundant variety, even when it comes to ice cream. There is a plethora of cafes and ice cream parlours to go to, and a myriad of the kinds and flavours of ice cream available, and all of these coalesce to form the role ice cream plays in my life.
In 1880 in the suburbs of Lahore, 8 km away from Thokar Niaz Baig across Multan Road, a beautiful building was constructed. The building was not for recreational purposes but to imprison freedom fighters from the whole of Punjab just to strengthen the colonial rule.
This is Chung police station, one of the historic police stations of Punjab. This 132-years old building is a legacy of colonial era which was in fact built to crush the freedom movement.
This building on 47 kanal and 6 marla land is a master piece of architecture. The sad part is that the authorities did not allow its photographs for security reasons or the reader could have seen it themselves. The building made of red bricks, still stands impressive but the bricks on the exterior are desquamating.
The huge wooden gate of the building adds beauty to the structure a common feature of all the historical buildings of that era.
The building consists of thirteen rooms, two jails and one barrack. In a beautiful garden various kinds of trees like mango, ficus, banyan, date and sisso, are planted. In the court-yard one room is allocated for the clerks and another is set apart as record room where records of ancient cases are preserved. In the police station the first case reported was of theft on the plea of Wajan Singh.
The police station covers the area of Manga Mandi, Raiwind and Chung. Twenty five villages and many housing societies are in the precinct of the police station. Till 1970 policemen used to patrol on horses. Still across the river in woodland the police officials have to patrol on horses. This makes the Chung police station distinct from others.
Now after 132 years, the building is in need of repair. The inner rooms in particular, are in a dilapidating condition. The walls and roofs are crumbling. The condition of barrack built for residency of police personnels is not so different. Those are close to collapse and are very much risky for the residents.
The present Moharrar Muhammad Aslam says police officers work for its maintenance on their own. The building needs maintenance now as most of the walls are crumbling. The officials TNS talked to didn’t know when the building was repaired last.
Mostly police officers who have performed duties here are not aware of its historical importance. Former DSP of this police station Aftab Phulerwan says it is my pleasure that I have performed duty in a historic place. Before this I was not familiar of the fact that I was working in a historic building. It’s not me who didn’t know the fact, almost every one performing duties here may be unaware of it. Policemen just come to perform duties and don’t take interest in such things, I just once heard that Bhagat Singh, the great freedom fighter was also imprisoned here for a short time,” he tells TNS. He says now the condition of the building is such that if the government does not take any step to start restoration work, it may cost it dearly.