Empowering the citizen
Jameel Yusuf, ex-CPLC chief, talks to Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui about the initial years of the committee
Q. What was the background to the creation of Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC)?
A. In 1989 Fakhruddin G Ebrahim (then Sindh Governor and currently the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan) came up with the concept of CPLC as a bridge between the citizens and the police. At that time the Deputy Commissioners (DC) and Sub-Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) were supposed to be the supervisory body over the police but they didn’t have time for the citizens. The success of the CPLC is the failure of the magistracy. And they had failed miserably.
Q. Did the policemen accept the CPLC easily?
A. Initially we were accomplishing things, so our acceptance was natural. We bought them new furniture, put in indoor plants, got in a water cooler, put in a beautiful reception desk. We made a beautiful garden, we painted the police station a soft-white. We got them proper water and gas connections, not only for the police station but also to the police living quarters. Why would they resist our involvement?
Luckily, we had ASP Aleem Jafri, a young officer who came through the Civil Services Academy and is now a DIG, as well as the SHO, both cooperative people. We were going to be their watchdog with access to their data so hats off to them for accepting us.
Q. How do kidnapping gangs operate?
One has to understand the psyche of kidnappers. They are not loyal to each other. Four guys come together to form a gang of which one or two could speed drive. They are car thieves and are good in escaping. Three will sit in a car and one will be follow in a motorbike or a follow-up car. They kidnap a guy and later collect ransom. The negotiator never shares the money with the guys looking after the kidnapped person on equal basis. Suppose they have collected Rs10 lakhs, the negotiator will say we have collected only Rs3 lakhs. He will distribute the three lakhs among the four people and keep the bigger booty for himself. The partnership breaks after one or two abductions and they move on to form two more gangs. This is how they multiply.
Q. How did bringing in technology help CPLC?
I got a beautiful leather briefcase in 1992 from London for personal use. The briefcase had a beacon that transmitted signals. Around that time the father of the owner of Anjum Motors was kidnapped. After giving the briefcase containing the ransom money to the kidnappers, we would go to the tallest building at midnight and track down the direction of the briefcase through our antennas. Interestingly, the leader of the gang always kept the briefcase in his possession. In this way we followed them and busted the gang.
Later when we got computers we recorded the data of stolen cars. We told the excise department that they needed to computerise their motor vehicle registration and Sindh became the first province to do so. We bought sketching software from the US. We got in night vision goggles and our detection and conviction rate became excellent.
Q. Was CPLC replicated in other cities of Pakistan?
A. Yes. It was replicated in Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad. Lahore and Faisalabad were set up during my tenure. We coordinated with them and gave them whatever help they required. But there was a problem in their choice of chiefs.
Q. What was the problem?
A. In CPLC-Karachi we had specified that no government servant can become a member. So that members are impartial. But the chiefs of CPLC-Lahore and Faisalabad at the time were headed by retired members of the armed forces or the judiciary. However, CPLC-Faisalabad is still better as it has several members that belong to the civil society.