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January 2, 2020

Challenge of street crime follows Karachi police into new year

Karachi

January 2, 2020

Street crime continues to be a challenge for the Karachi police as we entered the new year on Wednesday. However, according to the city’s police chief, after he assumed the charge of his office three months ago, the rate of muggings has fallen.

Additional Inspector General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon admitted while talking to The News that ever since he took over as Karachi’s top cop, he has seen street crime as the biggest challenge facing his department, especially cash and mobile phone snatchings.

To counter and prevent the menace of street crime, he has devised a strategy under which a Street Watch Force will be formed and all mugging hotspots will be identified, such as ATM booths, frequent gridlock locations, sites without traffic lights, deserted streets, and entry and exit points.

Blocking IMEI numbers of snatched mobile phones and conducting raids on illegal markets, especially those that have been selling stolen items, are also part of the police chief’s plan to control street crime in the city.

Moreover, the police will build a comprehensive database of criminals, comprising details of those arrested red-handed, identify culprits through CCTV camera footage and bust gangs during raids.

They will also complete developing their Criminals Most Wanted app, make strong cases against repeat offenders and propose separate courts for dealing with different criminal cases. Memon said that to control motorbike thefts, they have already identified the hotspots, set up pickets at the Hub exit and in other remote areas. They are also monitoring CCTV camera footage, encouraging the use of tracking devices and keeping a close watch on the spare parts markets.

Station house officers have been ordered to make a list of hardcore criminals, including proclaimed offenders and absconders, as it has been witnessed that these criminals have been emerging as the common factor behind the rising incidents of street crime and short-term kidnapping.

They have also been told to keep an eye on the suspects who have been recently bailed out. The police chief said that getting bail from the courts has also been a factor behind street crime cases.

He lamented that the complainants refuse to show up at the courts or become witnesses as well as shy away from recording their statements, which weaken the cases and benefit the suspects in getting bail.

He requested the people to help counter the menace of street crime by reporting such incidents to Madadgar 15. He also requested them to attend the court proceedings so that criminals could be punished for their crimes.

Memon clarified that he is personally against extrajudicial practices, and that he wants criminals to face trial and get punished the legal way by getting sentenced by the courts. He said that this can only be possible after the people start becoming witnesses.

Statistics

The city police chief said that after he assumed the charge of his office, he was faced with the daunting challenge of street crime, but within three months of his posting, a visible decrease was witnessed in muggings.

According to the statistics compiled by the Karachi police, 5,114 cases were filed against people and 12,019 complaints were registered over property issues in 2019, which showed that the matter of reporting crimes had started being taken seriously. Police also lodged 12,818 cases under local and supplement laws.

Twelve cases of target killing were reported in 2019, compared to 14 such crimes the preceding year. An increase was witnessed in murders committed over domestic and other issues, with 483 people killed in last year, compared to 437 victims in 2018.

Fortunately, 2019 saw no terrorist activity or bomb blast due to extra security measures adopted by the city police, compared to four cases of terrorism reported the preceding year. An increase was also witnessed in extortion cases, from 105 such crimes reported in 2018 to 124 the following year.

The report on kidnappings for ransom shows that 35 people were kidnapped in 2019, 32 cases were registered, 29 victims returned home, one victim was killed, 26 kidnappers were arrested and 18 cases were solved.

In the year that just ended, 18,697 mobile phones were snatched, while 243 vehicles were snatched and 1,405 others were stolen, showing a decrease compared to 2018. A decline was also seen in thefts of two-wheelers in the corresponding period, from 2,026 to 1,715. Until August 2019, three bank robberies were committed, and none since then.

Twelve police officials were martyred in 2019 in targeted attacks and during encounters and mugging attempts. In 266 encounters, 350 gangs were busted, 30 criminals killed, 866 others arrested and 21 police officials injured.

The police arrested 19,045 people for heinous crimes, which included murderers, terrorists, dacoits, drug peddlers, proclaimed offenders and absconders. They recovered 61 Kalashnikovs and sub-machine guns, 6,809 pistols, revolvers and Mausers, 84 rifles, 84 shotguns and repeaters, and 234 bombs and hand grenades.

The law enforcers also recovered illegal drugs and other substances, which included 4,516kg hashish, 56kg heroin, 4,920 liquor bottles, 6kg ice, 4.6kg crystal meth and 23kg opium. They also conducted a crackdown on the Gutka mafia, recovering tonnes of the illegal substance and registering 3,475 cases.

Target killings

The 12 people who were murdered in targeted attacks in 2019 included police constable Ehtesham Ahmed, who was attacked in Soldier Bazaar, Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, a KDA worker who was attacked in Ferozabad, and Rao Muhammad Nadeem, a banned outfit’s member who was attacked in the Brigade area.

Shakeel, a Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker, was murdered in New Karachi, assistant sub-inspector Muhammad Rizwan was murdered in Orangi Town, and Sanober Khan was murdered in the Aziz Bhatti area.

Police constable Muhammad Farooq was also murdered in the Aziz Bhatti area and so was religious scholar Maulvi Aamir Shahab. Police constables Allah Ditto and Ahmed Ali were murdered in Mominabad.

Dr Askari Haider of the Shia community was murdered in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Salman, who belonged to the same community, was murdered in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. Since October 2019, however, no case of target killing has been reported.