This ain’t no ordinary container!


In the Karachi Administration Employees Housing Society – or the admin society – in Mehmoodabad, a vacant 2,000-square yard plot, owned by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK), was quite recently used as a garbage dump by the residents, but a ‘police station’ was established at the spot that literally stands on blocks.
The admin society residents even do not know there is a police station in their area and normally approach the Ferozeabad police station to lodge complaints, where they are told to go to the Tipu Sultan police station. However, the Ferozeabad police fail to guide the complainants as the said police station does not have an address. To lower the burden on police stations having huge area jurisdictions, the Capital City Police (CCP) Karachi had announced establishing new police stations in the city.
The Tipu Sultan police station was also set up under the said plan. Initially, it was established opposite the Ambala bakery near Chanesar Halt but after the passage of three months, the police station was shifted to the plot in admin society. But there in the garbage dump, stands a cargo container measuring 10 by 5 feet. This ‘police station’ houses 20 police officers, including the station house officer (SHO), head constables, police constables and a head mohrar; but there are no civic facilities, no phone lines or a detention room – the suspects are detained in partially-demolished rooms in close proximity.
The Tipu Sultan police station gets its power and gas illegally. A ‘kunda’ from a nearby pole-mounted transformer gives the ‘building’ power to run an air-conditioner. Another illegal connection – yet to function – from a close by gas pipeline is sought for cooking and making tea at the ‘facility’. On a visit to this ‘unusual’ police station, Pakistan Today observed heaps of garbage surrounding the ‘law enforcement facility’. Nearby were two partially-constructed rooms – that according to the residents were made for the Baloch Colony police station, during the tenure of former city nazim Mustafa Kamal, but were later demolished, somewhat.
In absence of the Tipu Sultan SHO, a constable named Iqbal Mehmood – resting on a charpoy, out in the open – agreed to talk with Pakistan Today. “I was deputed here two months ago under Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Rustam Khattak, who was later transferred. “At that time, only the SHO and head mohrar were allowed to sit inside this small cabin. “Later, the DSP was transferred and the police station was handed over to the SHO. But even today we are not allowed to sit inside and I perform my duty under the open sky,” Mehmood said.
Telling about the history of the open plot, the constable said the space had been allocated for a cinema but the residents opposed opening a cinema hall in the area. Later, this plot was allotted to the CDGK for a dispensary, which also could not be established. “As the plot is situated at a prime location in admin society, the Police Department wanted to establish the Baloch Colony police station here. However, the CDGK responded and stopped construction,” Mehmood said.
“When the CDGK became nonfunctional due to political infighting, the police taking advantage of the situation placed a container and set up a police station,” he said. “This place is sandwiched between the strongholds of Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Sometimes we are stuck here as tensions flare between the two political groups and bullets fly around everywhere.”
When asked about a lockup facility, Mehmood said: “We prefer not to arrest any person as they become a burden on us. Even if we arrest a suspect, we handcuff him, cover his face and leave him in the open plot until he is produced before a court.” Tipu Sultan SHO Ghaus Azam told Pakistan Today that there is no government land or building in the vicinity where this police station can be shifted. “I have been told that the Sindh Inspector General of Police has written a letter to the CDGK for allotment of land [for the purpose].”
“This temporary police station was established on March 23. We have three Community Police Centres (CPCs) in our jurisdiction and if anybody needs to register a complaint, he or she can contact the CPCs, who will then contact the police station for registration of FIR,” Azam added. When asked about using an illegal power connection, the SHO maintained that the police station is using a legal power connection and paying Rs 500 every month for it.