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October 6, 2019

Rangers’ powers to deal with criminals not curtailed, PA told


October 6, 2019

In the wake of the rising instances of street crime in the city, Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani on Saturday informed the Sindh Assembly that there has been no reduction in anti-crime powers of the Rangers in Karachi and the paramilitary force in the present day possessed all the powers to conduct operations against the street criminals.

The information minister stated this on the floor of the House as he responded to a point of order raised by an opposition lawmaker Arsalan Taj belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on the recent killing of an MBBS student of the Hamdard University, Misbah Athar, in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area during a robbery attempt.

Speaking on his point of order, Taj said that an unidentified gunman had killed Misbah in front of her father. He added that there had been a sudden increase in the incidents of lawlessness in the area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal and its surroundings.

He also pointed out that recently an attempt had been made to abduct the coordinator of the leader of the opposition in the House.

No system of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras was available in the area for electronic surveillance, the PTI MPA said. He lamented that no laboratory was available in the city for the forensic investigation of the criminal cases due to which the identity of criminals could not be properly established.

Taj said his constituency had witnessed change of four station house officers (SHO) within one year but the issue of rising street crime was not resolved by the SHOs’ transfers.

He also pointed out that suspected criminals caught by the law enforcement agencies had to be later freed as they were not convicted due to lack of modern investigation techniques.

The PTI MPA maintained that the crime rate had earlier decreased in the city due to the presence of Rangers as criminals were afraid of the paramilitary force.

Responding to the opposition legislator, Ghani said the death of the MBBS student of Hamdard University was a tragic incident and there was no second opinion about the issue.

These remarks of the information minister prompted Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Khan Durrani to say, “Only regret as what else you can say except expressing regret.”

Ghani continued his speech, saying that progress in a speedy manner was being made on the Safe City project under which CCTV cameras were to be installed for electronic surveillance.

He said he did not want to talk on the issues related to obstacles being faced by the government in implementing the projects related to law and order.

The information minister conceded that law and order issues did exist in the province where the tragic incident of the killing of the medical student had taken place. He informed the House that an inquiry would be carried out to investigate the killing.

In the meantime, another PTI MPA, Sanjay Gangwani, raised his point of order on the issue of the closure of a private thalassaemia treatment centre in Jacobabad. He said staffers of the treatment centre had been asked to report to a similar centre in Sukkur. Responding to Gangwani, Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said the decision had been made to close the private thalassaemia treatment centre in Jacobabad as it did not comply with the relevant regulations. She said treatment services to thalassaemia patients would be provided at the state-of-the-art centre in Sukkur. She said the provincial government could not allow unregulated and unauthorised treatment services to operate in the province and it would establish its own treatment centres at the places where such facilities were closed.

MPA of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Mir Nadir Ali Khan Magsi complained about the rise in the cases of hepatitis in his constituency. He urged the provincial government to take due measures for the prevention and treatment of hepatitis in the province.

Dr Pechuho acknowledged that currently there was a shortage of medicines to treat patients of hepatitis in Sindh and assured the House that the government would soon overcome that shortage.

Fuuast admissions

Meanwhile, the assembly unanimously adopted a resolution to condemn the suspension of new admissions to the Sindhi Department of the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science, & Technology (Fuuast). The resolution was moved by PPP MPA Heer Soho.

The resolution asked the Sindh chief minister’s adviser on educational boards and universities to conduct an inquiry into the issue and use his office to get admissions restored to the Sindhi Department of Fuuast.

Anti-Gutka bill

A bill was also introduced in the House against the preparation, storage, sale, and consumption of Gutka and Mainpuri (chewable forms of tobacco) in the province.

The bill was referred to the relevant standing committee for further consideration. The speaker directed the committee to improve the bill and present it again in the House within one week.

Durrani said no member of the House would be allowed to consume Gukta till the time the assembly approved the bill.

The draft law envisages sentence of imprisonment ranging from one to six years and a fine from Rs100,000 to Rs600,000 against people involved in the preparation, storage, sale and consumption of Gutka and Mainpuri.

Talking to media persons after the session, Ghani said there had been a countrywide ban on the preparation and sale of Gutka but no law as such existed in Sindh to that effect. He said in this regard a bill had been introduced in the House and referred to the relevant committee of the assembly.