KARACHI: In what is being described as a shameful incident, the head office of the country’s leading charity organisation headed by renowned and widely respected philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi was robbed on Sunday morning. The robbers took away about Rs30 million worth of gold and cash.
According to Edhi Foundation officials and police, eight robbers stormed the office in Mithadar area at about 9.45am, held its staff hostage at gunpoint and woke up Mr Edhi to get keys of lockers in which gold ornaments, other valuables and cash had been kept.
According to SSP Sheeraz Nazeer, the Edhi family lives in the office. The robbers came on motorcycles and four of them entered the office and locked staff members in a room.
He said that most of the cash and gold ornaments had been kept by people for safe-keeping because they trusted Mr Edhi.
Armed men point pistol at Abdul Sattar Edhi to get keys of lockers for gold and cash
The SSP quoted the staff as saying that the robbers knew where the cash and gold had been kept. He said the possibility of involvement of an insider could not be ruled out. A special team is investigating the matter from different angles.
He said the authorities had provided four police guards to the office but Mr Edhi returned them some three months ago saying that he did not need any special protocol. According to the SSP, Mr Edhi told police that since the office was located in a small room, the presence of guards could affect the working environment.
Edhi Foundation’s spokesperson Anwar Kazmi told Dawn that five persons aged over 30, one of them wearing a mask, had entered the office. They asked three women staff to hand over lockers’ keys. They then entered a nearby room where Mr Edhi was sleeping. They woke him up and pointing a pistol at him demanded the keys.
According to the spokesman, Mr Edhi told them that the keys were in the custody of his wife, Bilquees Edhi, who had gone out for some work. The robbers made two or three calls from their mobile phones to get ‘instructions’ and later broke open two of the shelves. They tried to smash the third locker but did not succeed.
“The robbers remained in the office for about half an hour,” Mr Kazmi said, adding that he suspected that they might have been helped by an insider because they knew the exact location of the gold and cash, including foreign currency.
The office houses a room shared by five to six children, a maternity home and an outpatient department (OPD).
According to Mr Kazmi, the robbers took away an estimated Rs30m worth of gold ornaments (about 5kg) and cash.
Senior officers, including DIG South and Rangers commander, visited the office.
The IG suspended the Kharadar SHO and formed an inquiry team comprising DIGs South and CIA and SSPs South and investigation.
Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah directed police officials to arrest the culprits and bring them to book.
According to an official statement, Mr Shah also directed the additional inspector general of Karachi to provide security to the Edhi office and submit report of the inquiry without any delay.
Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2014