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Hundreds of sacked policemen given chance of reappointment

Hundreds of sacked policemen given chance of reappointment

HYDERABAD: All former policemen who were expelled across Sindh from the force in the wake of inquiries ordered by the Supreme Court into ‘flawed recruitment process’ would appear in the job test on May 6 and 7 to be conducted by National Testing Service (NTS) in Karachi to try their luck once more. Around 625 of them are from Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas ranges alone.

Some candidates complained that although they had ticked Hyderabad as their desired district for NTS test, they are asked to appear in Karachi. “In view of our joblessness and financial constraints it is difficult to meet these expenses for many of us”, said a candidate.

They were sacked in the light of findings of separate inquiries by police officers including present IGP A.D. Khowaja, Dr Sanaullah Abbasi and Khadim Bhatti. The probes found glaring flaws in the recruitment process in which procedural formalities were grossly neglected.

Out of the 376 policemen sacked in Hyderabad district, 61 were later reinstated by the Sindh Services Tribunal (SST) but they were not allowed to resume their jobs on the ground that the apex court had ordered that all policemen sacked between 2012 and 2015 would have to appear in the NTS’ job test once again in order to return.

Another batch of 21 policemen has moved the SST which has accepted their appeal, according to their counsel Soulat Rizvi.

Inquiries by Dawn revealed that anomalies were reported in the recruitment of police that took place between 2012 and 2015 when senior superintendents of police made appointments on their own and often on the basis of political considerations.

A total of 70 policemen appointed in 2012 were sacked in Mirpurkhas, 376 and nine appointed in Hyderabad district in 2014 and 2015, respectively, were sent packing, three recruited in 2013 were shown the door in Thatta, 34 who joined the force in 2012 in Jamshoro district, 27 in Tando Allahyar, 62 in Tando Mohammad Khan and 32 in Dadu in 2014 were also axed.

The en bloc sackings started during suo motu proceedings by the apex court a couple of years ago when former Sindh IGP Ghulam Hyder Jamali was facing contempt of court proceedings. The Supreme Court, on Dec 23, 2015, ordered inquiry into illegal appointments in Sindh Reserve Police Hyderabad and other districts.

The SC had accepted then Mirpurkhas DIG Munir Shaikh’s findings of an inquiry he had conducted as per SHC Sukkur bench’s order into illegal appointments in SRP in 2012. The probe had revealed that 997 appointments were made in Sukkur SRP and 600 in Sukkur district police illegally.

The SC had referred it to IGP Jamali, who in a bid to avoid embarrassment in the contempt proceedings had tasked AIG Khadim Bhatti to probe it. Mr Bhatti, however, probed the appointments in all districts except for SRP Sukkur.

After Mr Bhatti’s report, Jamali ordered sacking of policemen but the SC was not satisfied with Bhatti’s findings and termed them ‘dishonest’ and an attempt to hush up the scandal.

Afterwards, an inquiry was conducted by a three-member committee of A.D. Khowaja, Sanaullah Abbasi and AIG Naeem Shaikh. In the meantime, Mr Khowaja was made Sindh IGP. As per SC order, the committee was to examine appointments in all wings, units and zones of police including different units of SRPs (except those probed by DIG Shaikh) in Hyderabad and other districts on a case-to-case basis.

The sacked policemen in Hyderabad had undergone special training including that of commando and performed duties for 32 months. The 298 out of 376 had performed duties for 32 months without getting salaries before they were shown the door.

Another batch of 78 policemen — appointed in 2014 — were sacked though they had drawn salaries for 32 months.

Sacked cops still on duty

There were credible reports that some of the sacked policemen were still performing duties, were using police’s motorcycles and were deployed at different places. A senior officer denied the reports, saying “strict directives have been issued not to allow sacked [individuals] to perform duties”.

Under IGP Jamali’s directives he had issued in the wake of Mr Bhatti’s report, Hyderabad SSP had sacked 155 policemen out of 376. Then, when the matter was scrutinised by the Abbasi-led committee, recommendations were made for sacking of the remaining ones as well.

A batch of 61 policemen challenged their sacking before the tribunal which ordered their reinstatement on Dec 19, 2016. Another 21 former policemen have moved the tribunal now.

According to Soulat Rizvi, the apex court through its Dec 26, 2016 directive had called for following due process in the recruitment of policemen and clearly mentioned that “Dec 26 order will apply to those appointed between 2012 and 2015 and were later dismissed, discharged or removed from service during this period”.

He, however, said that his clients were dismissed on Feb 21, 2017 and they were thus in no way hit by SC’s Dec 26 order.

The sources said that Central Police Office wanted to recruit the sacked policemen by giving them an opportunity to appear in NTS examination which was conducted for appointment of policemen in 2016 under IGP Khowaja’s directives.

The sources claimed that SSP Hyderabad was said to have recommended to the IGP not to sack the policemen appointed between 2012 and 2013, which were 217 in all.

A police source said the recommendation was made considering the fact that these policemen had been performing duties in Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF), which was raised by district police chief Irfan Baloch.

Army personnel had trained the ATF personnel and they were now working in the force to perform law and order duties. “Those sacked were actively performing their duties after training. And now further sacking of these policemen will leave district police understaffed,” said the source.

Since many sacked policemen did not meet the criteria of age, possession of district domicile and required level of education they would stand automatically disqualified from appearing in NTS test. There was a possibility that half of the 376 might actually be able to appear in the NTS examination from Hyderabad district, said official sources.

Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2017

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