Gilgit-Baltistan: Police Extortion on Rawalpindi-Gilgit Route

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Islamabad (ET): Deployment of police officials on the Karakoram Highway seems to be a lucrative job for minting money from transporters.

Officials in Hazara division, who are deployed to ensure passengers’ security, have been observed extorting money from transporters, particularly those who travel to and from Gilgit-Baltistan.

“We have to pay at least Rs1,000 on this route every day at various points without any reason. Police officials extort money from us on various pretexts”, said, a bus driver taking passengers from Rawalpindi to Gilgit.

“I have a valid route permit, travel licence and every necessary document. But despite all of that, they forcefully took money from me,” said Naveed, another bus driver in Haripur who had just paid Rs500 to the police. He claimed ‘bhatta’ is extorted from Attock Bridge to Besham and they could not avoid paying bribes.  “We have to pay both the traffic police as well as security officials at various check posts,” Naveed added.

Their tactic, Naveed explained, is to stop the vehicles first, take its driver to the police van or check post and then demand money from him.

“We cannot complain or talk to the media as these officials can harm our source of livelihood,” said another bus driver who wished not to be named.

Ahmed Karim, a passenger, said, “I often travel to Rawalpindi from Gilgit for business and witness these officials receiving bribes from transporters every time.”

DIG Hazara Dr Naeem Khan, when contacted, said he would issue instructions to the concerned district police officers to check the illegal practice and strict action would be taken against any case brought to their notice.

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