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May 20, 2017

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Interior ministry takes notice of Rangers’ raid sans police

Interior ministry takes notice of Rangers’ raid sans police

Warns of withdrawing powers; seeks explanation from DG Punjab Rangers; raid carried out without permission

ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry has warned the Punjab Rangers of taking back its policing powers if it fails to explain by Monday a recent controversial raid on the outskirts of Islamabad.

“If the requisite report is not provided by Monday, May 22, 2017, the powers conferred on Punjab Rangers under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) shall be suspended in public interest,” reads a letter addressed to Director General of Punjab Rangers, Lahore.

The Rangers carried out a raid on a private housing society on the outskirts of Islamabad at midnight between May 13-14, and arrested several people without informing the district administration.

According to the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 under which Rangers were permitted to operate in the Punjab, the paramilitary force is bound to work alongside the police and keep the district administration into the loop regarding its operations. However, no such steps were taken during the raid in question, the sources added.

The sources claim that the Interior Ministry, following the Rangers' raid, sought the explanation through its letter dated May 15 and later through a reminder dated May 17. However, no response was given to the Interior Ministry.

Under the law, the Punjab Rangers not only come under the Interior Ministry but they also act on the directions of the ministry. However, the chief of this civil law enforcement agency is a serving major general of the army and most of its personnel also come from the army.

The sources claim that after two previous notices demanding explanation from the Rangers went unreplied, a female joint secretary, Ms Tanvir Kayani, on the directions of the interior ministry, with the approval of the interior minister in writing, warned the chief of the paramilitary force in the latest notice of withdrawing their policing powers in Islamabad if a reply was not received by Monday, May 22, sources said.

The sources claim that the office of the DG Punjab Rangers received the letter. Besides sending this letter to him, a copy has also been sent to the Military Operations Directorate of the army.

Interestingly, the multi-billion housing society is actually located in Rawalpindi. However, its offices are also in Islamabad. In the Interior Ministry's letter, it is not clarified whether the powers of Rangers would be withdrawn from Islamabad or the Punjab. However, key officials believe that the warning has been given about Islamabad where about 350 Rangers have been deployed since June 2014 following the announcement of military Operation Zarb-e-Azb by the government.

The deployment of Rangers in Islamabad was initially for 90 days and to-date, the Interior Ministry extends its stay after completion of its 90-day tenure.

In February this year, five wings of the Punjab Rangers were also granted policing powers in the province for a limited period to be renewed from time-to-time, in a meeting chaired by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

 

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