By Asim Jasra – Nawabshah Memories
It was April 1, 2014 when I landed in Nawabshah as Assistant Superintendent of Police Under training (ASP UT) for the next 5 and half months. I found the city peaceful, relaxed and slow paced as mark of its first impression. This city maintained this posture till the end of my stay there. Fortunately, three years later in April 2017, I was again posted in Nawabshah and this was like living the past after reversing the time machine.
Nawabshah is more than a village and less than a city. It carries the serenity of the village and looks like a city when we see its organized settlements.
History behind its name
- The British government made it a Tehsil of Hyderabad District in 1907. At that time it was known as Nusrat Tehsil.
- In 1909, a well- reputed landlord of the area, Syed Nawab Ali Shah donated more than 200 acres of land free of cost to the British government for construction of Railway station and buildings of government offices. The British government honored this generosity and renamed the town as Nawabshah town.
- On November 1, 1912, it was given the status of the District. This District retained this name (Nawabshah) for almost one century. It is interesting to note that the District was renamed by the Sindh government as Shaheed Benazirabad in September 2008 to commemorate the great sacrifice of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. However the city retained its original name till date. The District name is Shaheed Benazirabad whose headquarters is Nawabshah city.
- This was upgraded to the status of administrative division on June 6, 2014, comprising three districts – Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar and Naushahro Feroze.
Profile of the District
- Area: 4400 square kilometers
- Population according to the census 2017: Around 1.6 million
- Rural population: 70 per cent, Urban Population: 30 per cent
- Literacy rate: Around 47 per cent
Administrative Profile of the District
Administratively, this District comprises following four Tehsils:
- Qazi Ahmed
These towns are also the important towns of the District. Other important towns are Daulatpur and Bandi.
Tendency to commit crime is moderate if we compare its crime figures with other parts of the Sind Province. This District is one of the Districts which constitute Interior Sind. Its annual crime figures are higher as compared to those in Sajawal, Tharparkar and Badin which have very low crime. However, this District is more peaceful than Sukkur, Khairpur and Shikarpur.
National Highway passes through three big towns of this District. These are: Sakrand, Qazi Ahmed and Daulatpur. In 1980s and early 1990s, securing this route was a daunting challenge for Nawabshah police as dacoits hiding in the natural forests which grew near the Indus river, committed kidnappings and robberies on this highway which stretches around 65 kilometers in the jurisdiction of the District. Still, Shaheed Benazirabad Police have to take measures to protect the route from the dacoits.
Crime does not happen in isolation. There are various reasons behind crime. These reasons are social, economic and governance-related. Crime is the symptom of the underlying disease. It is my perspective that treating symptoms would not work unless we treat the causes. I interrogated many offenders during the course of my duty whose source of living was the crime. Police as an institution is made to counter the deviance that is exception in society. When the percentage for deviance increases in society, it makes the job of the police harder. In the civilized societies, police is the last line of defence against deviance. Role of the police comes after the crime is committed, though in many cases, it has the potential to prevent crime as a short term measure. However, there are certain institutions which can play their roles in preventing crimes. These institutions are schools and educational institutions, teachers, mentors , friends, peers , family and neighborhood. Moreover, abundant economic opportunities have a great role to play. The lesser we invest in human resource in terms of their grooming, education, training and skills, the more we need to invest in our policing and criminal justice systems. It is better to invest in human capital than to bear the cost of the acts of the offenders.
The places I liked the most
There are three places in Nawabshah which I liked the most. I frequented these places during my leisure time. One such spot was Pai forest. Located just on the National Highway, it is the largest man made forest of the province. There is an old fashioned rest house built in 1961 in the centre of the forest. A single road brings you here from the main highway. It is one of the places where you can talk to nature. One may find wild partridges, rabbits, jackals and foxes crossing the road. This place is habitat of many kinds of birds and small mammals. This reserve has almost 60 years old trees. Such reserve forests should be planted across the country to counter the environmental challenges and abrupt climate changes.
The other place I often visited during nights was a tea stall located near a small village named as ’60 mile’. Such tea stalls are called Dhabas locally and serve Chae. These small tea hotels have peculiar features. They have charpoys, an old fashioned television, wet sandy surface because water is sprinkled on the surface to bring the temperature down and some trucks parked around. People of Sindh are tea lovers, and they take great care in making it. There is no compromise on the quality of tea. I would not be able to forget the serenity of the ambiance of this place located on Nawabshah- 60 mile road and surrounded all around by crops.
The third place was Specialized Commando Training Center(SCTC) Sakrand. This facility was located very close to the Indus river in the wilderness. It was my luck that I got the opportunity to be posted as Commandant of this great training facility. I contributed a lot towards improving the standard of police training during a very brief tenure. This facility has the total area of almost 90 acres. It was built in 1990s during the second term of Late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as prime minister. It was such a serene place that one could hear the chirping of quails in the nearby wheat crops. Major chunk of the area of this facility comprises open spaces and grounds. I made sports compulsory in this institution.
I pay special thanks to Mr. Tanveer Hussain Tunio ,Senior Superintendent of Police , Shaheed Benazirabad who played a great role in developing my understanding and perspective on policing and criminal justice system. He is indeed a great police officer and human being who left no stone unturned in making the interior Sind safe and peaceful. He is the true son of the soil. His battle with the crime is not over yet. I shared beautiful moments with Sir Irfan Kathia, Nauman Latki, , Muhammad Rashid Hidayat, Wasim Hamid, Adnan Rashid, Dr. Faisal Saleem, Essa Sukhera, Hassan Bhatti, Inam Ali kalhoro , Zahoor Hussain Chandio, Asad lakho, Shoaib Soomro and Abdul Hameed Jalbani. The list would remain incomplete because of limited space available. All are wonderful human beings. Though time passed, memories managed to stay forever in my mind owing to their pleasantness and beauty.
Nawabshah city is not only a city for me. It is more than that. This city was an institution from which I learnt so many things and perspectives on crime, culture and social psychology. I travelled across every village and corner of the District. I have a feeling that cities have peculiar temperaments like human beings. I found this place very kind, friendly and educative.