LAHORE: The Lahore police, launching a massive crackdown on the top-73 ‘underworld dons’ of the city, claims to have raided their houses and dens, arresting a majority of them.
The large-scale operation was carried out late on Tuesday on the basis of updated lists of these highly notorious goons, thugs, land-grabbers and shooters, which were provided to all the divisional superintendents of police (SPs) in the city.
According to police, the crackdown which continued in the wee hours of Wednesday ended with the arrest of the over 60 out of the 73 ‘underworld dons’.
The police lodged 44 first information reports (FIRs) against these criminals, recovering huge caches of sophisticated illegal weapons from them, including Klashnikovs, rifles and pistols, besides thousands of live bullets etc.
Snatched vehicles, weapons, ammunition also recovered
As per sources, many of these ‘dons’ were so influential that they had created a ‘state within the state’ and were reportedly being patronised by police officials, lawyers, journalists and politicians.
According to the officially-prepared list of these hardened criminals, several of them had become a ‘symbol of terror’ in the provincial capital. They were also involved in gambling, extortion, murders through hit men and illegally occupying properties of helpless citizens.
“It was a massive exercise that we conducted because these hardened criminals were deciding police cases by setting up their own courts at their dens/outhouses for money,” Senior Superintendent (SSP) of Lahore police investigation wing Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani told Dawn.
The SSP said the crackdown was launched on the directive of Capital City Police Officer Ghulam Mahmood Dogar.
He said these criminals had enforced a parallel ‘justice system’ and used to settle cases of murder, dacoity, robberies, kidnappings and land-grabbing.
The modus operandi of these criminals was that they used terror as tool to coerce people of their respective areas into bringing their disputes, cases to them for settlement.
“They would take fee/share in cash from them (parties to the disputes) for deciding their cases,” the SSP said, adding they were responsible for the rising trend of crime in the city, creating many legal issues for the police.
He further said the police teams formed in all the six city divisions carried out “fearless raids”, impounded and arrested a majority of the 73 “dons” of the city.
“These 73 hardened thugs were on the list of first and second tier underworld dons that was provided to all the divisional SPs of the city, while ensuring complete secrecy to ensure maximum arrests,” Mr Qaisrani said.
He said many of these criminals were proclaimed offenders, court absconders and wanted in many criminal cases registered against them at various police stations of the city.
Most of them were from the walled city, and were well-connected and dangerous having criminal background.
Of them, 27 were arrested from the city division for terrorising people, particularly in Gawalmandi, Shafiqabad, Shahdara, Lohari, Akbari Gate and Naulakha areas.
“The crackdown and arrests of these goons will help police in creating a sense of security among the people of these areas and in eliminating their underground networks,” the SSP said.
According to the police record, 13 were arrested from the Iqbal Town Division and 12 others from the Civil Lines Division.
The organised crime police also arrested 13 hardened criminals, notorious thugs, proclaimed offenders and court absconders.
Another police official said that one of the criminals arrested from the Walled City was the son of an underworld don of Garhi Shahu, who was allegedly murdered some 10 years back by a hit man hired by his rival group. He said the criminal was running a business in Shahalam Market and the police recovered from his possession seven rifles and a large number of live bullets.
Another suspected criminal from Akbari Gate was the owner of several plazas and was a notorious land-grabber, who had illegally occupied properties on Railway Road and Brandreth Road and used to decide disputes of the area people in a ‘parallel court’.
The police recovered from his possession four cars he had snatched from their owners.
Similarly, five notorious thugs and land-grabbers were arrested from Sanda area. One of them was running business of cable connections, involved in murder cases and was patronising crime dens.
Another arrested suspect was infamous for illegally occupying disputed properties in the area. Recently, a station house officer was transferred on the complaints of getting Rs200,000 monthly bribe from him, the police official said seeking anonymity.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021