Security: Donít move an inch
Published: April 11, 2011
Flying Squad members are frustrated with 12 to 14 hours of duty .
Forced into long working hours in violation of the standard operating procedures, many police personnel of the Flying Squad say they are finding it increasingly difficult to be committed to their work. The Flying Squad is a police force of close to 900 police officials for the security of VVIPs. Their duty entails standing alongside the route of VVIPs as a secondary force of defence.
These officials are now finding that due to the lack of coordination between the VVIPs and police they are standing in for more than 12 hours without moving. An increase in the number of VVIPs in the city means that many police personnel end up working double shifts which can mean more than 14 hours at a time. Rules, however, state that personnel on static duty for three hours be given rest for three hours. Only after the rest can they be brought back to duty. These rules, however, are being blatantly flouted.
Police higher ups say that the security officials in charge of VVIPs such as the chief minister and the prime minister do not bother to relate information about any delay in their programme. They said that Flying Squad members have to be on duty two hours before the route comes through. They said there was ambiguity on what is the maximum number of hours for personnel on static duty when there is change in the VVIPs plan. Many Flying Squad personnel after serving for some time take off on long leaves in frustration hoping never to return. However, due to limited career options, several head back to the squad and are met with punishments for their Ďnon-professionalismí.
A constable of the Flying Squad, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that serving in the squad was no less than a punishment. He asked how the higher ups expected them to stand for twelve to fourteen hours without a break. He said that constables perform their duty not because they become used to it, rather it is financial insecurity that compels them. Even moving five to ten feet while on duty, he said, means being handed out a punishment.
Another constable recounted that when the president, prime minister and chief minister were in the city, he told the ASI in-charge that he was not feeling well.
His submissions fell on deaf ears and he was made to do thirteen hours of duty, he said. He said as each VVIP had about a dozen cars and they had no idea which car the VVIP was in, the government was just wasting resources. He said the imperial attitude of the chief minister was at his odds with his Ďpublic friendlyí persona.
SP (Mobile) Muntazir Mehdi, who is currently also SP VVIP, said that conditions had improved. He said that when they get the information of a delay in the programme of the VVIP, the information is relayed to the ASI who can then tell his men to relax. He said that with the presence of more VVIPs in the city, both shifts were combined as security is needed for two routes, the main one and an alternative route. He said that with improved communication the extra burden on police personnel would ease up.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2011.