Lahore Police show they take care of their own

  • More than 400 families of former policemen have benefitted from Lahore Police’s Welfare Eye project since its inception four months ago

LAHORE: More than 400 families have benefitted from the Lahore Capital City Police’s ‘Welfare Eye SMS service’ launched on June 5 this year to facilitate the families of deceased or prematurely retired police officials, a positive step indeed that will boost the morale of the city’s lawmen dedicated to protecting the life and property of the citizens of the provincial capital.

The SMS service is designed to help the families of those policemen who embraced martyrdom in the line of duty or who had to retire prematurely on medical grounds.

Individuals from as many as 18 families have been given jobs while the cases of 40 other families are in progress. Moreover, 35 families of policemen have received financial assistance, while 30 others have benefitted from the software in getting their pension issues resolved.

In four months since its launch, the Welfare Eye SMS service software has received an extremely positive response from the widows and heirs of deceased police officials, Pakistan Today has observed.

The project is the brainchild of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Administration Rana Ayyaz Saleem who came up with the idea after the spouse of a senior police official martyred in a suicide attack in Quetta two years ago suggested starting a WhatsApp group in which families of former police officials could convey their problems to the department for instant redressal.

SSP Rana Ayyaz Saleem explains the working of the Welfare Eye SMS project. Photo By Zubair Mahfooz

“The widow of the late Quetta DIG Operations Fayyaz Sumbal, who was martyred with 30 other policemen in a suicide blast in 2013, is a friend of my wife. She once suggested that a Whatsapp group should be created through which police officials’ families could contact each other. I took that idea from her to develop the Welfare Eye software, since all martyred police officials constitute our family.

“There was no one-window forum earlier for the widows and legal heirs of police officials who lost their lives while performing their duties. Through Welfare Eye they can now get all issues related to their compensation and pension resolved at their doorstep,” SSP Rana Ayyaz said while talking to Pakistan Today.

All information relating to pensions and compensatory amounts is shared with the respective families on a regular basis, therefore the family members do not have to pay visits to government offices following the launch of this software, the SSP further said.

He revealed that he had first planned to make a smartphone application for the purpose but later decided that an SMS software was better suited for the job as most families of deceased police officials did not know how to use smartphone applications.

Under the new design, the families can easily connect with the software by sending a text message to 0301-5031515. As per the standard operating procedures (SOP), a lady operator immediately calls back on the number from which the text message has been received and records the query. She then forwards the query to the official concerned and also makes a follow up call to ensure compliance. She then calls back the family who had sent the text message and updates them on the status of their case. The SOP dictates that the lady operator has to call a family back within 30 minutes of receiving the text message.

The SSP Admin himself receives all text messages sent via the text message service and monitors the whole procedure.

A view of the Welfare Eye SMS project dashboard. Photo By Zubair Mahfooz

Rana Ayyaz said that it had taken them two months to develop the software as the complete profiles of all deceased and retired officials were uploaded on it, and their names were registered against their widow or legal heirs’ numbers. This means that the lady operators of the SMS service can access all the requisite information of each case simply by entering the phone number of the widow.

He further commented that lady operators had especially been hired to interact with the widows as it would be easier for them to talk with female operators than male staff. He said that a letter had been posted to all the families of the deceased when the software was launched and they were instructed to use it in case they faced any difficulty related to compensatory amounts or pensions. There were no responses from 250 families initially but later the lady operators approached them directly and told them to feel free to lodge their complaints should they face any.

Female operators of the Welfare Eye SMS project working in the centre set up at the CCPO office. Photo By Zubair Mahfooz

Widows are entitled to receive pensions from the government if their husbands have a minimum of 10 years of service in the department. Some 54 families were ineligible to receive pensions according to this law, but the police department has managed to give them Rs 5,000 per month from the welfare fund, Rana Ayyaz went on to comment. There were also 170 families with children of ages 13 and less, for whom the Lahore police have planned trips for entertainment and recreation every three months, he informed.

The SSP was optimistic about the project saying that no one would be able to reverse it as the police department had taken ownership of its deceased officials, resulting also in the uplifting of the police force’s morale.

He said that the department was also willing to share this software with other districts and also provide free training to them.

Sajida Nadeem, widow of late constable Nadeem Tanveer, told Pakistan Today that she had received Rs 10 million and a house in Lahore after her husband was killed in a suicide blast at Charing Cross Lahore on February 13 along with six other policemen.

She said that she received regular follow-up calls from the SSP Admin’s office and an official vehicle was sent to bring her to Lahore to assist her with the official documentation required to receive her compensatory amount. Furthermore, she said that the police department had promised to take care of her two daughters’ education when they started school. She was also able to withdraw the full salary of her late husband, she said. “I do not have words to pay my gratitude to the Lahore police. I do not feel all alone after my husband’s death because of their cooperation,” Sajida Nadeem commented.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer Amin Wains giving a briefing on the technological initiatives taken by the Lahore police. Photo By Zabair Mahfooz

Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Amin Wains said that the Welfare Eye software was part of a series of initiatives in which the Lahore police had used technology to curb crime.

Before this, they had launched other softwares, including Local Eye and Hotel Eye, which had both proven very effective in controlling the rate of crime in the recent past, said the Lahore police chief.

A view of the Hotel Eye project through which Lahore police keeps a check on all visitors staying at hotels and guesthouses in the city. Photo By Zubair Mahfooz