Claims pile with underfunded police welfare unit
KARACHI, May 7: A recent announcement by the government for giving Rs2 million as compensation to the heirs of each policeman killed in the ‘Lyari operation’ has baffled many in the department about how this can materialise within the budget of the police welfare wing, it emerged on Monday.
The underfunded police welfare wing has already been finding it hard to entertain many such applications from the families whose loved ones had been killed in the line of duty in different parts of the province.
Sources close to the details of the Sindh police welfare wing said it was offered Rs40 million a year solely for compensation to the families of policemen killed and injured while performing duties. The sources added that the figure seemed unrealistic considering the number of policemen who laid down their lives or sustained gunshot wounds in the line of duty over the past few years.
“In 2010 alone, 267 policemen were killed in different operations or were targeted by criminals. Thirty-nine policemen sacrificed their life in the line of duty the following year,” the sources said, adding that scores of other police officials sustained bullet wounds while performing their duty.
In this situation, they said, the department could not even compensate the families of each martyred policeman, let alone the injured.
He said families of several slain policemen kept waiting for their turn to receive compensation, sometimes for years. He added that a majority of them included low-ranked officials who sacrificed their life on duty.
The Sindh government had announced Rs2 million as compensation for the families of each of the five policemen — an inspector and four constables — killed in the ‘Lyari operation’.
The announcement was made by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, who also promised free education for the children of the martyred officials.
The weeklong gun battles between the police and the armed men in the city’s oldest neighbourhood had left at least 38 people, including the five officials, dead and over 150 others wounded. The deadly episode not only exposed capabilities of the law-enforcers but also became a source to spot faultlines in the police department. A senior official of the home ministry said that the low budget of the police welfare wing would be taken up with the relevant authorities.
“It’s definitely demoralising,” said Sharfuddin Memon, an adviser to the Sindh home ministry. “On the one hand such issues leave the families of slain policemen high and dry, while on the other they damage the morale of fellow policemen.”
The adviser said that it had been brought to his notice and efforts were being made to enhance the budget in this particular account.
The Sindh government had increased the police department allocation by mere 2.7 per cent in the budget for 2011-12, making it Rs30.4 billion against the Rs29.6 billion estimates of the previous financial year. The allocation was even less than Rs32.29 what the police department had spent during the previous financial year.
“Apart from an increase in the welfare budget, mainly for compensation to slain policemen, we have also proposed a substantial rise in reward money for the police officers and constables who offer their services for the arrest of key criminals,” said Mr Memon.