LAHORE/DERA GHAZI KHAN: The officials of Punjab police operating in Rajanpur area had sought 25 days to smoothly implement a counter-terrorist operation against the infamous Chotoo gang, however, the urgency imposed by the IG of Punjab police and subsequently by district police officers resulted in the losses suffered by the local police, it has been learnt.
A local police official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that “Punjab police had asked for 25 days to devise a strategy against Chotoo gang”. We wanted to move forward while making bunkers and posts to save ourselves from hostile fire — for this we needed time, he maintained.
Punjab IG Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera had said to the policemen “if no one from you is willing to go forward I will go fight myself”, said the official. It was after this that it became a matter of honour for the local police officials, he said.
The district police officers (DPOs) then summoned and deployed the force in the Indus River area between Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan on immediate basis.
The police force had initially refused to go but following the remarks made by the Punjab IG, the officers reacted in haste and ordered the force to advance from one side only rather than surrounding the gangsters from all sides, the official maintained.
At least six police officials have been killed and 27 personnel taken hostage by gangsters during this operation.
The army has sent 150 soldiers to help rescue the policemen held hostage by the gang of heavily armed criminals after a bungled raid on their island stronghold, police said.
Officials said six policemen have already been killed in the operation launched against members of the so-called "Choto gang" on an island in the Indus river in southern Punjab.
The police personnel deployed in the area consider the Punjab IG and DPOs responsible for the death of their fellows.
He said “the Chotoo gang has lots of modern weaponry, much better than what we have”.
Due to lack of operational planning, the police had to suffer life losses and retreat, the official lamented.
Protesters block Indus Highway
Relatives of the policemen, who were kidnapped or killed during operation against Chotoo gang, held protest against the alleged ineptness of police and demanded the safe recovery of the missing policemen.
The relatives said “lack of planning by apex authorities paved way for the causalities and kidnapping of more than 20 police officials”.
The demonstrations were held in Rajanpur, Fazilpur and Jampur. The protesters blocked the Indus highway and put the traffic out of gear for several hours.
Following the deployment of army in the troubled area, the demonstrations ended as the protesters said “they have trust on Pak Army”.