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KARACHI: The Sindh Apex Committee on Wednesday approved 28 terrorism cases to be sent to military courts for trial.

In its 21st meeting, the apex body also decided to launch an operation against street crimes, land grabbing and illegal aliens and constituted a monitoring committee to supervise the Karachi Safe City Project.

Chaired by Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, the meeting was attended by Corps Commander Lt Gen Shahid Beg Mirza, Rangers’ chief Maj Gen Mohammad Saeed, Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja, provincial ministers, secretaries and others.

CM expresses anger over number of vehicles snatched/stolen

Officials informed the committee that the interior ministry had approved 10 cases to be sent to the military courts for trial. The legal committee — a subcommittee of the apex body which scrutinises cases before recommending trial by military courts — recommended another 28 cases.

The meeting was told that the legal committee had so far held 16 meetings and recommended 106 cases for trial by military courts.

Presently, 38 cases involving 29 accused were being tried in the military courts. A total of 23 accused had been convicted, of them 21 handed death sentence. Three cases had been returned to antiterrorism courts and one was pending trial in military court, the meeting was told.

Since the beginning of the National Action Plan (NAP), by Oct 2017 the ATCs had convicted 1,521 accused; 94 of them were given death sentence and life imprisonment was given to 562.

“Our law enforcement agencies, police, Rangers and intelligence agencies are capable enough to maintain law and order in the city. We are vigilant and would not allow anyone to ... [worsen] law and order in the city,” the chief minister added.

Crackdown against street crimes, land grabbing

Taking the streets crimes’ challenge seriously, the apex committee directed the police and Rangers to start a crackdown and targeted operation against those involved in this menace.

A committee was also constituted to request the chief justice of the Sindh High Court to dedicate certain courts for holding trial of those arrested for their involvement in street crimes in order to make their release difficult. Law Minister Ziaul Hassan Lanjar would head the committee.

As motorbikes were being used in most cases of street crimes, the meeting also decided to enforce installation of such number plates on the front of motorcycles which could be read easily through CCTV footage.

The apex committee also decided to launch an operation against land grabbers and those involved in making fake property documents.

The police and Rangers were asked to go after land grabbers active in Surjani Town, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Manghopir, Superhighway, Scheme-33 and various other areas.

Action against illegal aliens

The meeting was informed that there were around 2.5 million illegal aliens in the province, majority of them living in Karachi, and many of them were involved in street crime.

They generated funds through street crime, land grabbing and funded terrorism and other criminal activities.

The government decided to approach the interior ministry with a request to notify the Sindh police as “Civil Authority” under the Foreigners Order 1951 enabling them to take necessary legal action against illegal aliens in the province.

The CM asked the home department to approach the federal government to amend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 to stop those placed under the Fourth Schedule from making financial transactions through banks.

Giving progress of the decisions taken in the previous apex committee meeting, it was pointed out that the SHC chief justice had been requested to transfer the cases of high-profile prisoners to Badin so that they could be shifted there.

The CM directed the home department to keep pursuing the matter so that the process could be completed soon.

The IGP prepared a draft law with regard to registration, construction, monitoring and other matters relating to seminaries and presented in before the meeting. The CM asked him to send it to industries, education and Auqaf departments and get it done at the earliest so that it could be presented in the assembly for legislation.

The meeting was also told that the provincial government had approached the interior ministry for curbing cybercrimes.

Missing persons

The issue of missing persons also came under discussion in the meeting. The meeting believed that some people “just for gaining political sympathy or becoming champion of human rights” were presenting exaggerated numbers of missing persons in the province.

It was noted that some people went to ‘jihad’ and some others involved in criminal activities that had gone out of the country were also listed among the missing persons.

The meeting was informed that 83 high-profile prisoners, including 52 undertrial, 18 convicts and 13 condemned prisoners, had been shifted from the Karachi Central Prison to other prisons in the province.

Another 137 prisoners, including 69 UTPs, 50 convicts and 18 condemned prisoners, had also been shifted from Karachi to other districts.

At the meeting, a comparative figure with regard to the theft and snatching of cars was presented. According to the figure, the number of four-wheelers snatched in the current year was 199, while 1,085 vehicles were stolen.

The chief minister showed his displeasure and directed the IGP to stop the crime by taking strict action.

The meeting was also told that the Rangers were present at 460 spots in the city.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2017