KARACHI: A different kind of policing in militancy-hit and crime-infested Shikarpur district by the law enforcement agencies has started bearing fruit. Some 1,000 suspects, including those associated with the banned outfits and wanted in a number of crimes, have surrendered to the authorities during the last six months, and around 200 of them were acquitted by courts after they were found implicated in the cases by rivals, officials and data said on Sunday.
The fresh developments in the remote district started emerging after the Sindh police decided to take up the challenge of law enforcement with a different approach and launched a “surrender for justice” programme that is offering suspects and those wanted in dozens of cases ranging from robberies to murders to surrender and face the judicial process with a promise of legal support and financial assistance.
The programme, which has so far attracted hundreds of suspects and motivated many of them to avail the opportunity, however, creates a valid question about the police approach to fight with the suspected criminals and militants for their alleged crimes and anti-state activities instead of offering them assistance. Many, who are aware of the geography, terrain, tribal rivalries and history of the criminal justice system, though agree to the police approach and argument.
1,000 suspects, including those associated with the banned outfits, have already surrendered to the authorities
“There are thousands of cases registered for murder and tribal rivalries here in the district,” said Shikarpur SSP Asad Raza, who actually designed the programme and had been running it successfully. “Many of the people nominated in the FIRs are not even aware of the cases against them. They never come to the police fearing for their life and the situation remains the same with cases piling up each day. That’s the reason that you would find the highest number of proclaimed offenders and absconders in this district in Sindh. They are extremely poor people and can’t afford to face any judicial process or hire legal services.”
His thoughts echo in the data compiled by the Sindh police in 2017 which suggested that out of the 100,000 absconders, more than 46,000 such offenders belong to the Larkana range — under which falls Shikarpur district — of the police organisational structure. The most significant achievement that the programme has made over the months is that it made inroads in the banned outfits which, to some extent, have influence in the district bordering Balochistan.
“Among some 1,000 people surrendered to law under the Sindh police programme, there is a large number of those people who were part of the banned outfits carrying out anti-state activities mainly in Balochistan,” said SSP Raza. “It took tireless efforts and constant counselling of the tribal elders, families and people themselves who were wanted to avail the opportunity and be part of national mainstream. The results are phenomenal. Hundreds of people have agreed and surrendered with their arms. We expect the number would keep going up with each passing day.”
He said the police assistance to those suspects who were booked only for tribal rivalries helped some 200 suspects to get acquitted through proper judicial process. The police campaign with the assistance of other law enforcement and security agencies, he said, had started yielding results and set course of reconciliation in the district.
Only last month, he said, 16 suspected militants belonging to a banned outfit abandoned their armed struggle against the state and surrendered their weapons. Those who announced joining the national mainstream hailed mainly from the Mach and Bolan areas.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2019