KARACHI: Karachiites will soon see some 2,000 police commandos patrolling on city roads and streets on over 1,000 motorbikes as the authorities have launched a “street watch force” to fight increasing street crime.

A senior official said that the plan to set up a new force comprising trained and young police commandos had been launched after a batch of 200 personnel with 100 motorbikes hit the roads in Karachi’s South district.

Gradually, he said, the plan would be expanded to other districts and a total of 1,000 bikes with 2,000 police commandos would become part of the force.

In the first phase, 200 police commandos are being deployed in Defence, Clifton areas

“In the first phase we have brought a team of 200 police commandos with 100 motorbikes. They are being deputed in Defence and Clifton in the South district,” said Karachi police chief Dr Amir Ahmed Shaikh. “They have completed their training and passed out recently. According to our plan, we keep the force under the command of the area SP. The force will be in touch with the police helpline — Madadgar 15.”

He said he believed that it would make a difference and prove effective to fight against street crime.

Confronting threats ranging from terrorist attacks to deadly battles with gangsters, street criminals and hitmen associated with political groups, the Karachi police backed by the Sindh Rangers have succeeded in improving the city’s security situation to a large extent. Peace has returned to residential and commercial areas after years of bloodshed on sectarian, ethnic and political grounds following the targeted operation launched in Sept 2013.

But, the city has witnessed an alarming surge in criminal activities, including muggings and robberies, in the recent months with street crime becoming a big challenge for the law enforcement and security agencies.

The fresh move to handle the situation through a dedicated force is not a new phenomenon. However, city police chief Shaikh vowed that the new dedicated unit to fight street crime was different from past experiences and deployment of the force was not the end of the exercise.

“In a few areas like Defence and Clifton we are arming the members of the force with small weapons like 9mm pistols and not with AK-47 assault rifles,” said Dr Shaikh. “At the same time, we are bringing reforms at the grass-root levels where we are identifying officers and policemen suspected of their connections with criminals at the police station level.

“We have already taken action against more than 100 such officials and more will face the same fate. Our drive against street crime carries a multipronged strategy and once all of them are channelised, a positive change would be visible to everyone,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018