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September 18, 2013

Over Rs650m paid to Taliban as ransom

 
September 18, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Despite the payment of hundreds of millions from taxpayers’ money, not only the police but all the intelligence and law enforcement agencies have failed to trace extortion and kidnapping for ransom cases in the federal capital and Rawalpindi, being carried out by the Taliban.
Latest official documents show that some Rs650 million have been paid to the Taliban by the businessmen of the twin cities during the last 18 months alone. The billions of rupees paid have not been reported to the police and agencies, and the businessmen have dealt secretly with the Taliban to save their lives.
Documents available with The News reveal that in Rawalpindi and Islamabad alone, a list of 45 cases of kidnapping for ransom and extortion has been prepared in which Rs653 million have been paid to Taliban while billions have remained undiscovered.
The report submitted to the high-ups of the police, accompanied by the list of 45 cases since January 2012, states that at least four traders have been killed by the Taliban for not obeying their command to pay ransom and extortion money.
A few have not been released despite paying the ransom while others were released. In some cases, the police have made some arrests as well.
The Chief Police Officer of Rawalpindi, Bilal Siddique Kamyana, while talking to The News said that he took over the command of the Rawalpindi police on September 2, 2013 and since then no complaint has been registered with the police.
He maintained that he has even asked the traders’ leaders about this issue but the reply was that they have no issues. He however maintained that police under his command will try to solve each and every case of extortion and kidnapping for ransom and bring the culprits to book.
While on the other hand, the data shows that Taliban killed one Muhammad Siddique on 24-04-2012 for not paying Rs2.5 million ransom. He was kidnapped from airport police station’s jurisdiction, Rawalpindi. Police record shows

six accused have been arrested in the case.
One Haji Faizullah was killed on April 14, 2012 while he was sitting in his shop in Waris Khan police station jurisdiction. He was killed for not paying the demanded extortion money.The report says that one Haji Faraz was killed by Taliban for not paying Rs3 million. His heirs were also threatened who later paid the amount.
In another case one Sakhi Jan was killed for not paying Rs3 million while he was sitting in his shop in Waris Khan area. A similar threat has also been hurled at one of his neighbours.The report states that one person (name being withheld) was kidnapped from the jurisdiction of police station Saddar (outer) on 28-06-2012 and Taliban demanded Rs50 million ransom amount. He has not been recovered despite paying Rs25 million. Two sons of a trader from Committee Chowk area were kidnapped and were released after Rs60 million was paid to Taliban.
In one case, the victim reached home safely after paying Rs4.5 million ransom while two accused, Derwaish Khan and Wali of Malakand Agency have been declared proclaimed offenders. Another shopkeeper on Ratta Road paid Rs1.8 million ransom for his release.
Two traders have been kidnapped from Westridge Area and ransom worth tens of millions is being demanded and the kidnapees have not been released yet.In another case, the kidnapper has been arrested who was paid rupees three hundred thousand for the release of a resident of city area. A trader paid Rs20 million for his release while Rs20 million is demanded for release of another trader who is in the custody of Taliban.
In a case of Jhelum, a trader paid Rs5 million ransom and six accused have been arrested.In another case, a CNG station owner paid Rs 2.6 million for his release and two persons have been arrested in his case.
A well-known physician and head of medical unit of a hospital of Rawalpindi and his physician wife have been asked to pay Rs50 million extortion. The owner of one of the most famous food chains of Rawalpindi and Islamabad dealing with rice has also received calls from Taliban to pay Rs50 million extortion. The police station New Town has registered a case under Telegraph act instead of the relevant laws, the report says.
In another case, two kidnappers have been arrested who received Rs1.7 million ransom from a trader in Westridge area.A trader was kidnapped by TTP from Margalla Police Station area of Islamabad and was released after paying Rs70 million ransom.
Similarly, owner of a famous business and a pharmaceutical agency were kidnapped and released after paying millions. A manager of Murree Brewery company has also been asked to pay extortion.
The list runs long but the pick of the cases is a recent incident where a property dealer who refused to pay extortion found explosive material hanging in a wrapper on the door of his shop just two week ago i.e. 02-09-2013. The sources say that the Taliban’s business is flourishing in the twin cities because their main targets are mainly the settled businessmen and those people who have run away from the tribal areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from the fear of Taliban.
In almost all the cases, the heirs of a kidnapee received calls from Tribal areas. One trader was released from Peshawar while another was thrown in Abbottabad after their heirs paid the ransom.
Of late, on September 3, 2013 the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry issued a press release which stated that the traders were receiving extortion slips ranging between Rs5 to 10 million.

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