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October 19, 2019

Influential criminals striving to avoid police action


October 19, 2019

PESHAWAR: The members of various mafias are on the run and making all-out efforts to pressure the police to avoid action against them after the force launched a crackdown on land grabbers, drug dealers, extortionists, timber smugglers and usurers since last month, a source told The News.

The source said the police have compiled lists of criminals involved in sale and smuggling of ice, heroin and hashish and also those extorting money from people through different tactics.

The lists also include many influential people, always seen escorted by a large number of gun-brandishing guards in public, who occupy land of people, buy it on cheap rates or collect money from the owners. “Since the launch of the action in September, many having links with political and influential people are pressuring the police in their respective areas to avoid arresting them. They have been on the run and want to use all their contacts to exert pressure on the force,” the source added.

The public have lauded the police action against the land mafia, drug dealers, usurers and extortionists in Peshawar and other districts. They believe strict laws need to be introduced to book these criminals to bring an end to social evils once and for all. The Peshawar Police have arrested 78 members of 25 different gangs of land mafia during the action in the last almost two weeks. Further actions are expected soon as the lists of more criminals involved since long in bothering innocent people by occupying their commercial and residential plots. “Besides, the Peshawar Police have accelerated action against the drug dealers and smugglers. According to the record of the Capital City Police, the force have arrested 1,059 people for selling and smuggling ice, heroin, hashish, opium and liquor during the last almost nine months,” an official told The News. The official added that apart from 2.5 kilograms of ice, 12 kg of heroin, 632 kg of hashish and 22 kg of opium have been recovered during the period.

Districts other than Peshawar have also compiled lists of the land grabbers, drug traffickers, usurers, timber smugglers and extortionists for launching crackdown on them. The report has been submitted to the inspector general of police (IGP).

Hundreds of members of different gangs have been arrested all over the KP. “We have set up a special desk at the Police Lines for complaints against the land mafia, usurers, extortionists and those involved in extorting money from people through various tactics. Anyone can approach the desk and submit complaints. The police will take action to bring an end to the menace,” District Police Officer (DPO) of Mardan Sajjad Khan told The News.

He said the police have arrested 365 people involved in social evils. “Those arrested include 81 usurers, 58 land grabbers, 91 ice sellers and 145 heroin sellers and others,” said the official. The action was launched in late September on the directives of IGP Mohammad Naeem Khan, who had instructed the regional police officers (RPOs) and district police officers (DPOs) to take action against the mafias. They were told that the progress against the mafias will be considered as performance indicator.

There have been several complaints that the land mafia supported by influential people brandishing automatic weapons in double-cabin pickups and jeeps is involved in occupying the land of innocent people who have no access to those matter in the government and the police.

In many cases, the criminals demand extortion from the owners of the land in urban, suburban and rural areas. Some of the professional land grabbers take advantage of small mistakes in the transfer of inherited properties with the connivance of the local staff of the revenue department and demand money from the owners.

The pathetic revenue system supports land grabbers. In many cases, innocent people are left with no option but to pay to the criminals after getting no help from the police or the revenue department.

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