ISLAMABAD: A Minority Protection Unit with the deployment of 70 personnel has been established in the capital police.
Zonal police superintendents have been made responsible for the protection of the lives and property of minorities and their worship places, the police said.
The unit was established in response to the recommendation of the National Minorities Commission. The unit will work under the supervision of the senior superintendent of police (SSP) operations.
The officers will also strengthen liaison with committees of the minority community.
70-man unit mandated to safeguard rights of religious minorities and their worship places, police say
Apparently, the ban was extended keeping in view the prevailing situation in the wake of the Jaranwala incidents to avoid any untoward incident in the capital.
The unit was established a day after mobs vandalised five churches and houses of the Christian community in the Jaranwala tehsil of Faisalabad over alleged blasphemy on Wednesday.
“The unit has been established with a commitment to safeguard the rights and well-being of religious minorities and their places of worship,” the police said. Besides, it will uphold the safety and interests of the minority communities.
“The manpower of the unit, including newly-passed out officials, will work tirelessly to uphold the safety and well-being of minority communities,” the police said, adding the Capital Police College’s curriculum now included specific modules on minority rights and human rights protection.
These modules are incorporated into training programmes for both new recruits and officers participating in departmental promotion courses, they added.
Besides, the capital police also decided to conduct awareness campaigns to educate the public about minority rights and ensure that minority representation is incorporated into peace committees at the police station level.
A police officer told Dawn that the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) also had a Violent Extremism Prevention Unit.
Its mandate included identification and response to violent extremism in public and private places, reporting any violent extremism trend in educational institutions and any suspicious behaviour of students like use of drugs and weapons. Such criminal activities shall be monitored by the educational institutions and reported to the police.
It also works on data collection from educational institutions and sharing them with other agencies, registration of cases related to violent extremism and collection of details of cases related to vulnerable communities, including minorities, women, children.
Besides, the CTD’s unit was also responsible for maintaining data on minorities and their worship places, the officer said, adding it can also give recommendations to strengthen the security and safety measures for the minorities, their properties and worship places.
Authorities here have deployed 600 policemen at almost 140 churches after five churches were set on fire and the members of the Christian community were attacked in Jaranwala on Wednesday.
Apart from the deployment, Dolphin Force, Muhafiz Squad and regular police patrolling has also been established in the areas of churches.
City Police Officer (CPO) Syed Khalid Hamdani said foolproof security was being provided to sacred places of Christians in the wake of the Jaranwala incident.
In the Rawalpindi district, there are 140 churches out of which 16 have been categorised as “A”, most sensitive, 19 as “B” less sensitive and 105 churches “C” which means normal.
As part of the reinforcement of security, CPO Hamdani and Deputy Commissioner Hasan Waqar Cheema on Thursday called an Inter-Religious Harmony Committee meeting which was attended by pastors, scholars, peace committee members, businessmen’s association and other officers.
The meeting reviewed the arrangements for providing foolproof security to the churches after which the CPO and DC visited various churches and reviewed the security arrangements.
The CPO said all resources were being used to maintain law and order in Rawalpindi.
The Jaranwala incident led the Punjab government to call in Rangers and deploy thousands of police personnel in order to maintain peace in the province.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2023