Saturday June 03, 2023

Increase in extortion cases worry well-off people

July 30, 2022

PESHAWAR: There has been an increase in the cases of extortion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in recent months but the claim of a senior leader of a political party that top government functionaries have paid extortion is something to worry about.

After calls to a large number of industrialists, traders, politicians, contractors and other well-off people, many houses were attacked with grenades in recent months.

In the latest attack on Thursday, a grenade was lobbed into the house of a jeweler in the limits of Khazana Police Station that did not cause any casualty but damaged a portion of the building.

On Monday, Awami National Party provincial president Aimal Wali Khan claimed at a press conference that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, former speaker of the National Assembly and two ministers have paid extortion to the Taliban.

Aimal repeated his claim on Friday. “The PTI leaders should explain if they paid the extortion from their pockets or they used the government exchequer for it,” Aimal Wali, who is more active on social media than any other central or provincial leader of ANP, tweeted on Friday.

Though many from the ruling party rejected his claim on social media, there was no response from any KP government official.

The police chief of the province when asked during a press conference on Thursday expressed ignorance about any such incident.

There has been an increase in calls for extortion to many well-off people in parts of Peshawar and other districts. The callers are using WhatsApp numbers.

Many houses were also attacked recently with grenades apparently by the extortionists after the owners failed to pay the amount.

In recent days, the house of ANP Senator Hidayatullah, leader of Jamaat-e-Islami Niaz Mohammad, an ANP worker in Yakatoot and some other well-off traders, industrialists, contractors came under grenade attack, apparently by the extortionists. In some cases, the police claimed the attacks were carried out by the rivals. Most of those receiving calls have restricted movement, installed CCTV cameras and have increased their security. The situation, however, keeps the entire family under stress for a long time.

After a number of complaints of extortion calls, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police last year set up a special anti-extortion desk in the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) to deal with such cases and bust the networks.

An official said the CTD and local police busted gangs and held many individuals for extortion calls and grenade attacks in recent years. According to an official, a number of letters were written by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police to the federal government in the past years to take up the issue of calls from Afghan numbers with the authorities in Afghanistan as most of the extortion calls are made from these cell numbers. However, the problem still existed.