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KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to launch a clean-up operation against gangs of dacoits and kidnappers operating in the katcha areas and their ‘facilitators’ in the province.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah-led Sindh cabinet, which met here on Monday, also ordered the police to launch a crackdown against those involved in manufacture and sale of mainpuri, gutka and illicit liquor in the province.

While the agenda of the cabinet also included various other things, law and order remained the focus of the meeting. The proposed Sindh Ehtesab Bill was also on the agenda but it could not be taken up because of the CM’s scheduled visit to Shikarpur.

Inspector General of Police A. D. Khowaja briefed the cabinet on the law and order situation in the province.

He said that some gangs of notorious dacoits involved in kidnapping for ransom were active in the katcha area of Ghotki, Kashmore and Shikapur and these criminals might also be involved in other criminal activities.

He identified the gangs active in the region as Jhangal Teghani, Patho Narejo, Gulzar Jatoi, Shahnawaz Jatoi, Khair Mohammad Teghani, Belo Teghani, Sutoo Shar, Sharif Bahngwar and Nawab Jagirani.

The cabinet decided to launch a vigorous operation against the gangs and their facilitators.

About the Shikarpur incident in which police foiled a suicide attack on the Eid day, the IGP said that terrorists were penetrating in Sindh from Balochistan to attack innocent people.

The CM said that he had taken up the issue with the chief minister of Balochistan and he agreed to cooperate with the Sindh government to evolve a joint strategy to curb the movement of suspects.

“I have asked the IG police to coordinate with his counterpart in Balochistan to develop a new mechanism to secure our borders with Balochistan,” the CM told the cabinet.

The chief minister said that Sindh was the land of sufis and its people always rejected extremism.

However, he pointed out increasing clout of religious parties, mushroom growth of madressahs in the absence of regulations and legislation, the Balochistan factor, poverty and illiteracy as some of the major factors behind a surge in terrorist activities in the rural parts of the province.

Mr Shah also decided to launch the Kandhkot-Ghotki bridge project.

He said he was keen to table the Madressah Reforms Bill in the assembly. Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab informed the cabinet about his discussion with stakeholders who he said recommended some changes in the draft law.

He said one week was required to finalise the draft law. Upon which, the chief minister directed him to expedite the matter because the bill would be tabled in the next assembly session.

The CM also directed the IGP to take action against those involved in selling or making illicit liquor, mainpuri, gutka and other such items.

Energy Secretary Agha Wasif briefed the cabinet on outstanding electricity dues of Hesco and Sepco — Rs128.4 billion — for the period between July 2010 and July 2016.

The bills were so inflated that the provincial government refused to pay.

Mr Shah said that he managed to settle the amount at Rs78.21bn when he was the minister of energy department. “This is how I saved over Rs50 billion of the people of Sindh,” he said.

Mr Wasif said that the Sindh government had already paid Rs50.9bn against electricity bills and Rs27.31bn was yet to be paid.

The cabinet suggested to the CM that the payment of electricity dues should be linked with the issue of prolonged loadshedding in rural areas of Sindh.

The chief minister said that the federal government was cooperating with his government, therefore, he would take up the issues of loadshedding, installation of new meters and others with the centre.

The cabinet also endorsed a proposal that bike riders must wear a helmet. The police department would launch an awareness campaign for wearing helmets for one month and then strict action would be taken against those found riding a bike without helmet.

The chief minister said that he was quite surprised that in other countries it was almost impossible to get a driving licence without meeting required standards. “But in our country, particularly in Sindh, it is so easy that even a child can obtain a driving licence.”

“We have to change the system. There is a dire need to introduce rigid laws for issuance of driving licences to avoid increasing road traffic accidents,” he added.

The cabinet also decided that action must be taken against display of weapons, installation of police lights on vehicles, the so-called one-wheeling, etc.

Provincial ministers, CM’s advisers and special assistants, Chief Secretary Siddique Memon, Advocate General Zameer Ghumro and other senior officers attended the meeting.

Published in Dawn September 20th, 2016