Govt extends Railways Police jurisdiction

LAHORE - Lacking in basic infrastructure, manpower and other necessary facilities, Pakistan Railways Police (PRP) are facing an uphill task to man the areas recently handed over to it that included 1,500 more colonies and covering of 1,956 square kilometer area across the country housing 45 police stations. The federal government added to the woes of Pakistan Railways Police when it extended the jurisdiction of Pakistan Railway Police which included now entire infrastructure of railways throughout the country including residential colonies, dwelling houses, barracks of railway servants, and any other property on land belonging to the railways. Handing over more territory to the railways is probably a good news for the authority-minded people but unfortunately the new responsibilities are being handed over to the railways without any increase in the budget. The decision to extend the jurisdiction of the Railways Police was taken without taking the PRP higher authorities into confidence. A source in the PRP claimed that a former inspector general railways during his tenure had strongly opposed the decision of the federal government to extend the territorial limits. He had asked the federal government that the PRP would take these areas back if not provided with the required manpower and infrastructure. The federal government, then, postponed its decision till the transfer of the IGP. After the IGP's posting in another department, the federal government issued a notification directing the new command of Railway Police to ensure the implementation in letter and spirit. Before this notification, the PRP were only exercising powers against land mafia, crime in the running trains and encroachments on the land of Pakistan Railways. Now, the PRP have been given new assignments to maintain law and order situation, beef up security, control crime, besides registering cases on the complaints of citizens and patrolling in new areas that had been included by the federal government in the department's jurisdiction across the country. Earlier, these duties were being discharged by the district police. A source said the PRP had recently carried out a detailed survey of its territories including the new areas recently given back to the railways. According to this survey the population of these areas is much higher to be tackled by the railways police within its sanctioned strength. There are more than 1,500 railway colonies, which have above 2,000 mosques, imambarghas and other religious places. Besides maintenance of law and order situation within the jurisdiction of railway stations, manning thousands of signals and running trains, are also among the other prime responsibilities of the PRP. According to the survey, with the extended jurisdiction existing number of policemen serving in the railways is not sufficient to perform the duties. The situation at the Lahore Railway Police Station should make the federal government realize about the problems faced by the railways authorities. The above-mentioned police station has only one police van and a motorcycle. Interestingly both the vehicles being used as means of transportation are not functional any more. The police officials are patrolling in the areas on foot. Talking to The Nation, IG Pakistan Railways Police Mirza Muhammad Ali said that though the police department was lacking basic facilities including transport, police station buildings, and modern weapons, the police officials are motivated and ready to combat with the crime and thwart any designs by the terrorists. To a query, the IG said the department had asked the higher authorities concerned to equip the department with transport, weapons and more manpower. He said he was quite hopeful that the federal government would provide all the necessary facilities to the Pakistan Railways Police. A proposal sent by the PRP in this regard was under consideration, Mirza Muhammad Ali said.

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