To be called a ‘Police martyr’, it is not enough to die

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KARACHI: The families of martyred policemen in Karachi have to wait for five to eight months before receiving the monetary benefits entitled to them, family members of different martyred officials told News Lens Pakistan.

In the absence of a designated officer dealing with the cases of all martyred policemen, the families said they had to go through a number of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures before being able to get the official consent for release of the pension.

According to the Sindh Shaheed Recognition and Compensation Act, 2014, the family of a “Shaheed” (martyred, killed in the line of duty) policeman is entitled to compensation money — which has been decided by the government to be Rs2 million — besides his regular salary.

“For the past couple of years, the police personnel have been the target of criminals and terrorists for taking action against them,” said a senior police officer of Karachi, Abdul Khalique Shaikh told News Lens Pakistan. “A number of senior officers have been targeted while patrolling police parties (group of personnel, such as police officers or soldiers that are assigned to monitor a specific geographic area) have also been attacked.”

According to the figures obtained by the Karachi police, 171 policemen were killed in the city last year and so far this year the force has lost at least 140 men in the line of duty.

Sindh Assembly, in July 2014, passed the Sindh Shaheed (Martyr) Recognition and Compensation Act 2014 to streamline provision of monetary benefits to the families of martyred policemen as a symbol of recognizing their services and sacrifice of life in the line of duty.

The law stipulates that any slain policeman after his death will be promoted by one rank and the facilities, perks and fringe benefits of that post will be made available to the family. Moreover, two heirs will be provided jobs in the police department. It also requires the Sindh Police department to set up a welfare fund for the families of slain policemen.

However, interviews with the families of deceased policemen suggest shortcomings in the procedure. Almost all the families interviewed by News Lens, had to wait for at least eight months without receiving even the basic salaries of the only breadwinner in the house.

Officials say the process of validating the claim is necessarily a lengthy one, to avoid fraud.

According to the procedure, explained by Officer Abdul Khaliq Shaikh, the first thing families have to do is obtain a copy criminal charge sheet from the police station in whose jurisdiction the official was killed.

With this they also have to apply for and collect a death certificate from the local district or union council office. From there they have to make their way to the office of the district commissioner to obtain heir-ship certificate.

Once all forms are completed, they are submitted to the police station where the criminal charge sheet was registered. From here, the documents are forwarded to various police authorities before making their way to Additional Inspector General of Police to be verified and signed.

After his office verifies and signs the documents, they go to the office of Assistant Inspector General Welfare who allows disbursement of money, Shaikh said. Travel of a file to reach the destination takes a minimum of five months on average, Shaikh revealed.

Family connections can speed up the process, as the family of assistant sub inspector (ASI) learned. ASI Asif was killed with two others by land grabbers in a fire-fight in August 2013.

His brother-in-law, Rana Khawar, came to the rescue of his widow sister and was able to do some of the leg work for her.

Had Khawar not been there, the family would have probably starved in eight months following the death of Asif, said his widow.

However, she said, since Khawar had a friend in the police department, the family received eight months’ salary and the compensation money a few months later.

In the meantime, ASI Asif’s daughter left university to join the police so she may be able to support her family. However, unless the paperwork gets cleared and she is declared in the files as the daughter of Shaheed, she will not be paid.

“It has been ten months and I have yet to hear anything about my salary,” said Asif’s daughter while talking to News Lens Pakistan.

‘Technical’ problems

Karachi Police Chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo told News Lens Pakistan that the process takes so long because the police authorities had to ascertain whether the policeman was actually killed in the line of duty or due to personal reasons.

“We have to ascertain whether the policeman can fall under the category of Shaheed or not,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that there were a few technical hurdles in the process and said that he had been planning to take up the issue with Sindh Police Chief Ghulam Haider Jamali.

Sindh Police Chief Ghulam Hyder Jamali too explained that the “verification of heir-ship,” to determine if the claim was genuine or not, consumes so much time. “We have to be careful that the money does not fall into the wrong hands so we have to take every possible check we can,” he said. “So far, besides a handful of cases, all families who had applied for benefits had received compensation. Some cases have even been resolved in a matter of weeks.”

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