Slow progress: Over 100 murder cases pending with homicide unit.
Byline: Iftikhar Chaudhry
ISLAMABAD -- While the government had created a separate wing to investigate murder cases in the capital, the unit has around 100 cases pending which it needs to solve apart from a number of issues that the people face with the unit.
Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had created the homicide unit for the Islamabad Police in September 2016, as a dedicated wing tasked with only investigating murders in the capital and taking that load away from the 22 precincts of the city.
The unit is led by a superintendent of police who oversees four investigative teams. Each team is headed by an inspector who has some staff to investigate murder cases.
While the unit was created to speed up the investigation process for murder cases, some procedural issues mean that it is having the opposite effect, causing delays in probes and creating trouble for families of victims.
When a murder takes place, the duty officer from the police station in the respective area has to go to the site and wait for officers from the homicide unit team to turn up.
Often, officers of the homicide unit turn up quite late, if at all.
The duty officer, who is well aware that he does not have to probe the case nor does he have to be responsible for its investigation, and just has to wait there for the homicide unit to show up, does little to either collect time-sensitive evidence or taking note of witnesses.
Another issue is that once a case is assigned to the homicide unit, the family of the victims have a hard time figuring out just who is investigating it. After trips to multiple police stations reveal that the case could be with the homicide unit, they then have to figure out which team of the unit and investigator is probing the matter.
This is a far cry from the old system where the case, after being lodged at the police station, would be probed by officers of the very precinct. This made it easier for families to keep track of investigations.
Moreover, the homicide unit lacks an effective oversight system which would ensure that investigations are being completed on merit.
Police sources say that due to the absence of an effective monitoring system, investigations of nearly 100 murder cases have yet to be completed.
On the other side, to demonstrate exceptional performance, details of the arrest of a culprit in a case is issued for the media.
To allegedly present a picture of efficiency, arrests in a case are immediately disclosed to the public.
In this regard, the arrest of two culprits in a homicide incident within the remits of the Tarnol police station was quickly disclosed. In the case, the main suspect Jaleel Khan - a resident of Pandpariyan who was accused of killing Raja Yasrab Ali - had been apprehended and his arrest was disclosed.