An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Kandhkot on Wednesday remanded Sardar Teghu Khan Teghani in police custody for seven days.
Teghani was booked under clauses of the Anti Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code for harbouring dacoits and abetting criminals against police after the May 23 murders of three people, including two policemen, by a gang of dacoits inside the riverine area of Khanpur in Shikarpur district.
He was later arrested from the Gulistan-i-Jauhar area of Karachi along with half a dozen other family members and servants and was shifted to Shikarpur to bring his arrest on record officially.
Teghani is considered an influential man in Upper Sindh's Garhi Teghu area and holds considerable influence among dacoits. He often helped police in getting hostages released and was awarded with a peace award by the police last year.
“I am being politically victimised,” he said in a brief chat with journalists of Kandhkot in the ATC before being remanded into police custody. “I will no longer be supporting MPAs of PPP, Sardar Abid Sundhrani and Sindh minister Shabbir Ali Bajarani,” Teghani said.
“I always helped police and this is how I am being rewarded by them,” he said.
Teghani had played a role in securing the release of a folk musician, Jigar Jalal Chandio, who was kidnapped in 2019. Deputy Superintendent of Police Rao Shafiullah was a part of the operation in Kandhkot area to recover the hostages but was killed. His subordinate, Babar, was wounded in the encounter in August 2019.
Upper Sindh police — mainly in Kandhkot and Shikarpur districts — are engaged in a police operation after the murders of nine Chachar community members in Kandhkot on May 15. Police authorities were not able to produce evidence of eight dacoits they claimed to have killed in Khanpur area after the May 15 killings.
Police hierarchy changed in Shikarpur
Meanwhile, the Sindh government has once again opted for senior-level changes in police in the upper Larkana range following Sindh chief minister's visit to Shikarpur.
The chief minister is said to have expressed his dissatisfaction over the performance of police in the operation against dacoits.
Larkana DIG Police Nasir Aftab Pathan has been transferred and asked to report to Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD) while Shikarpur SSP Amir Saud Magsi has been posted as SSP Benazirabad. SSP Tanvir Tunio has replaced Magsi in Shikarpur.
Magsi was only recently posted in Shikarpur after SSP Kamran Panjota was removed.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had said during his visit to Shikarpur that police would continue the operation in the riverine area to cleanse it of dacoits.
“Help of other law enforcement agencies can be sought if required,” CM Shah had said in a firm tone while answering the questions of journalists in the backdrop of the two major incidents of May 15 and May 23.
On May 15 — the third day of Eidul Fitr — Sabzois backed by Jagiranis had struck at Zaman Chachar village and killed nine villagers in the attack, which had apparently come on the heels of a police operation launched by Kandhkot-Kashmore district police led by SSP Amjad Shaikh in Oct-Nov 2020.
Six Jagiranis including the wife, son and nephew of notorious dacoit Jiand Jagirani were gunned down in that operation. A Jagirani member carries head money of Rs500,000 as announced by the Sindh government.
“Since then Jagiranis and Sabzois have fled to Garhi Teghu in Shikarpur district but we have been able to clear a considerable part of the katcha area in Kandhkot. We have set ablaze hideouts of dacoits and we are gaining ground inside the area now,” SSP Shaikh said over the phone from Kandhkot.
“We are in an advantageous position because we have cut communication and supplies. Police are deployed on the route leading to Garhi Teghu,” he claimed. These areas, he said, were earlier inaccessible.
The May 15 incident took place in Durrani-Mahar police station area of Kandhkot. Jiand Jagirani believed that the Chachars had facilitated Kandhkot police by providing them access through their area to reach the Jaigranis.
The Jagiranis have opposed authorities' construction of the Kandhkot-Ghotki bridge which resulted in a police operation against them last year.
Work on the bridge, which would connect Kandhkot with Ghotki district, was temporarily suspended. Kandhkot is a district located to the east of the Indus River and Ghotki is located to the west of the Indus River.
Sindh’s riverine area spreads over hundreds of thousands of acres between the two main banks of the Indus. It stretches up to 30 to 40 kilometers at some locations and gets narrower, running parallel to the Indus highway at other locations. The riverine area has always been considered a safe haven for dacoits.
The area remains quite tricky in terms of infrastructure. It is the bed of the mighty Indus River where natural freshwater lakes, thick forests, and high lands exist. Outsiders can’t travel easily or move around in the area due to security concerns.
Large tracts of katcha land belonging to the forest department were brought under cultivation of cash crops on the basis of the agroforestry lease policy which was struck down by the Supreme Court and the Sindh High Court's Sukkur bench.
The katcha area is known for its rich soil fertility due to silt deposits that the Indus River brings in the monsoon season. A water flow of 500,000 cusecs or more in the river causes the water to touch both sides of the banks, inundating the riverbed in the entire area.
Crops are cultivated on residual moistures and groundwater, which gets refilled due to floodwater and is excessively used for cultivation. Many influentials including politicians, police officers and bureaucrats also hold large swathes of land for crop cultivation.