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Illusion of security: Sans power, cops patting down visitors at courts

Illusion of security: Sans power, cops patting down visitors at courts



ISLAMABAD: 

Less than 72 hours after a gun-and-bomb attack rocked the capital’s district courts, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Administration installed CCTV cameras and walk-through gates at the site to secure it.

There is only one problem now — half of the gates don’t work.

In their haste to meet a deadline set by the apex court, the administration seems to have ignored quality control.

While the cameras and gates at the entrances of the alleyways were installed before the apex court deadline, electricity connections seemed tougher to secure.

To make up for the lapse, Islamabad Police special branch officials have been deputed at three of the non-functional walk-through gates to body search each visitor. A police official deputed at one of the gates said a technician had failed to make it operational.

Gates installed in Block III, where the court of the slain judge was located, Block VIII near the excise and taxation office, and Block C, from where eyewitnesses claimed that four terrorists escaped.

The district courts are located in the congested F-8 Markaz where lawyers have already occupied a football ground and a car park in the market and it is difficult to check each and every visitor coming to the katcheri.

An ICT administration official, requesting anonymity, added that, “It’s a huge area and it’s difficult for the administration to get electricity connections.’’ The official said the court had provided electricity for the three working gates.

“I’m surprised to see that the administration has yet to learn its lesson after the tragic incident and failed to make the gates operational,” said Mateen Khan, a visitor.

Also, the ICT administration has failed to put in place the security measures decided upon earlier. Only six of the 12 alleys leading to the courts have been closed and there are not enough CCTV cameras to monitor visitors to the katcheri. Official sources said the total cost of the cameras and gates came to Rs3 million, which the administration has yet to pay.

Islamabad Chief Commissioner Jawad Paul said the gates could not be made functional due to the unavailability of electricity connections. He claimed, however, that he would look into the matter tomorrow and ensure that all the gates are operational. When asked about the limited number of CCTV cameras set up, he replied that more cameras would be installed in the near future.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2014.