ISLAMABAD: Over two thousand criminals have been arrested since the start of the Rangers-led operation in Karachi, an official of the Sindh Rangers told the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Affairs on Monday.
During a meeting of the committee today, Colonel Tahir Mehmood of the Sindh Rangers submitted a report detailing the progress of the operation against criminal elements in the metropolis.
According to sources, the report claimed that suspects arrested included those belonging to the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the banned People's Amn Committee, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), and hundreds belonging to banned outfits.
The Rangers report claims that around 2,251 criminals were arrested during the operation, said sources.
373 raids were carried out on MQM offices in which 560 MQM workers were arrested and a large cache of weapons was recovered.
18 raids were carried out on offices of the ANP in which 40 people were arrested and 21 weapons were recovered, he said.
396 raids were carried out against the banned Amn Committee, in which 539 people were arrested and 591 weapons were recovered.
403 raids were conducted against the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in which 760 alleged terrorists were arrested and a large cache of weapons and explosives was recovered.
159 raids were carried out against other banned outfits, in which 352 suspects were arrested and 463 weapons were recovered.
2347 other raids were conducted in which 4584 other suspects were arrested, said sources privy to the meeting.
When contacted by Dawn, spokesman for the Sindh Rangers Major Sibtain declined to comment on the numbers. He confirmed that a report had been submitted to the standing committee, but he was not authorised to share the details with the media.
'Notorious target killers' arrested in Gulshan-i-Maymar raid
According to sources, Colonel Tahir Mehmood told the committee that the suspects arrested during a raid on Sept 24 also included three notorious target killers.
Mehmood claimed that a search operation was recently carried out in Karachi's Gulshan-i-Maymar area after security personnel were fired upon.
Mehmood said that 23 people were arrested, including three notorious target killers whose names are also mentioned in a list of 143 most wanted criminals submitted to Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ibad.
Mehmood further claimed that eight of the detainees were proclaimed offenders involved in several crimes and have been handed over to the police.
The Rangers official further said that 12 of the 23 detainees were handed over to MPA Faisal Sabzwari and Dr Sagheer Ahmed of the MQM, said the sources.
MQM chief Altaf Hussain has recently lashed out against the Sindh Rangers claiming that only his party is being subjected to raids and arrests when the Supreme Court has ruled that all political parties in Karachi have militant wings.
Speaking to Dawn.com today, MQM MPA Faisal Sabzwari pointed out that the report claims security forces have arrested only 60 suspected terrorists belonging to the TTP, while 560 MQM workers have been picked up. He said that the numbers raise the question of misplaced priorities of the security forces in the Rangers-led operation.
About the allegation of target killers being arrested in the Gulshan-i-Maymar raid, Sabzwari said that the MQM would contest these claims in court. “If the Rangers or police have evidence, then the MQM will never support any criminals. But workers have been picked up solely on the basis of their affiliation with the MQM,” he said.
Contradicting the numbers, the MQM leader said that at least 700 MQM workers have been sent to jail, while thousands of party workers have been detained since the start of the operation.
He added that the low number of arrests of government-backed groups and other terrorist outfits “contradicts the claims of neutrality and impartiality” by the security forces.
The MQM recently carried out a number of protest sit-ins in Karachi claiming that 41 party workers have been missing since the start of the operation. MQM further claims that several party workers picked up by the Rangers have been tortured to death.
With additional reporting by Irfan Haider from Islamabad