By: Rabia Ali
KARACHI: By the time she marched back to the Clifton police station, Syeda Ghazala had become a relic for her subordinates. A constable was distributing sweets amid cheers of jubilation on her removal. Another officer pompously sat in her chair. Little did they know that the party was soon to turn sour.
“They did not know I was reinstated,” laughed Ghazala mischieviously. “So when I came back and saw them having mithai, I forced them to eat more to celebrate my reinstatement.”
Between last Saturday and Sunday, Ghazala, was demoted as an SI, suspended as the SHO, and then reverted reportedly due to public and media pressure. With Ghazala’s induction as the first female SHO of the province earlier in April, the Sindh Police boasted that it was promoting women officers in a bid to eradicate gender discrimination in the force.
Male officers on higher ranks claimed they were appointing women on key policing positions so they would deal with mainstream crime and criminals. Eight months on, little has changed for these officers, professionally.
Three women police officers were inducted as SHOs. Of these, Ghazala was dismissed and then reinstated; Anila Qadir has been removed while Zaibunissa was accused by her superior of taking bribes. The only female head muharrir of a male police station, Naseem Malik, has also been removed.
“It is difficult to survive among men. They don’t want to take orders from a woman,” said one officer. They come up with a number of reasons and complaints for their removals and transfers. “When women SHOs are appointed, there is no business of bribes and commissions. We are appointed directly and we don’t pay anything. This irritates our superiors,” said one officer.
The female officers claim that when they take over a police station, corruption goes down. “My SSP was unhappy that I wasn’t giving any money to him. We also try to expose the dirty businesses of police officers such as those involved in land grabbing.”
SHO Ghazala was accused of not registering the FIR of an influential person, and said to be unable to control crimes in her area. Soon after, however, she was reinstated on the orders of the Karachi police chief AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo.
“It is all lies that I am not performing well. In my eight months, I have arrested 509 criminals, seized 52 illegal arms and eight kilogrammes of drugs.” As she speaks, a man with a big yellow file shows the records of the criminals arrested.
Pointing at the laborers working in the police station, Ghazala adds, “A separate area is being built for cars that are seized. I am also setting up changing rooms for officers and restrooms. No other SHO had done this in the past.”
Bahadurabad SHO Zabinunissa was accused of taking a bribe worth Rs0.25 million. An inquiry found her to be innocent and reinstated her. It was the DSP who had taken the bribes and had wrongly accused her of doing so.
Anila Qadir, who was posted as the SHO of the Jauharabad police station in Gulberg Town for a little over two months, says she was removed because the senior officials thought she would not be able to handle the area during Muharram. “I felt this was unfair with me. They should have shown more trust and confidence in me,” she says sadly.
For his part, Thebo refuted claims that women officers were discriminated against. “We would like to encourage women officers to hold key positions as women are honest and less corrupt. The problem is that they are lesser in number, and it is difficult to find good officers.”