Summary trial of street criminals in Karachi seems far-fetched idea

Updated November 25, 2019

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As the Sindh government has decided to hold a summary trial of suspects involved in street crimes, recently-compiled data of the law enforcement agencies shows it a daunting task as in Karachi every year over 18,000 people are being deprived of their valuables, including mobile phones, motorbikes and cars. — Reuters/File
As the Sindh government has decided to hold a summary trial of suspects involved in street crimes, recently-compiled data of the law enforcement agencies shows it a daunting task as in Karachi every year over 18,000 people are being deprived of their valuables, including mobile phones, motorbikes and cars. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: As the Sindh government has decided to hold a summary trial of suspects involved in street crimes, recently-compiled data of the law enforcement agencies shows it a daunting task as in Karachi every year over 18,000 people are being deprived of their valuables, including mobile phones, motorbikes and cars.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in a recent meeting held to evolve a strategy to control street crimes in the city had come up with some aggressive measures, but it remains to be seen that how such measures would be implemented in a city where previous all such experiences have failed to put a cap on the menace.

Official data of the last five years, which gives details of only reported street crime, shows that none of the strategy since 2015 has been effective enough deter the criminals.

When asked about the authenticity of the numbers, an official said that these cases were reported by the victims and their records were found with different police stations.

The number of street-crime victims during the past five years has crossed 92,000

There were “a large number of people” who were robbed by armed bandits and deprived of their valuables — mainly mobile phones — but they never approached police and just contacted their cellular service providers to block their phone numbers, he added.

“The figures suggest between January 2015 and October 2019, a total of 92,889 people in Karachi were robbed at gunpoint in streets and on roads,” said an official citing the data of overall crimes in the city, including snatching of mobile phones, motorbikes and cars.

“Among the overall figure, 82,417 lost their cellphones, 11,305 motorbikes were snatched at gunpoint and 1,167 cars were also taken away in the same way.”

The CM, however, this time sounded quite concerned as he approved a Rs102 million plan to strengthen Madadgar 15 by enhancing its force to 2,900, equipped it with more vehicles, latest gadgets, including geo-location caller, repair Karachi police fleet, construction of police stations and setting up forensic laboratories so that prompt action could be taken against street criminals.

220 killed upon resistance since 2015

The chief minister had also constituted a committee, to be chaired by his Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab and Inspector General of Police Dr Kaleem Imam, to prepare recommendations for summary trials of street criminals for consideration of the cabinet.

But Karachiites are more interested in the results of such measures as the menace of street crimes has not only become a source of insecurity among them but in many areas it is a life-threatening challenge.

The most horrific fact is the number of killings during the street crimes and in recent days it emerged that even a minor resistance could lead to their murder by armed robbers.

The data says since 2015 more than 220 people were killed while resisting armed robbery attempts in Karachi, including men, women and even teenage students.

“Only last year [2018] 44 people were killed during robberies or incidents of street crimes and this year by October, 35 people have already met the same fate only for offering resistance. During these two years, total 610 people were also injured and many of them suffered bullet injuries, which led to lifetime disability or paralysis,” the official added.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019