'Unimaginable trauma and stress': Citizens lament rising street crimes, robberies in Karachi

Published June 2, 2021
Policemen stand at a blocked road in Karachi. — Photo by Shahzeb Ahmed/File
Policemen stand at a blocked road in Karachi. — Photo by Shahzeb Ahmed/File

On Monday, armed robbers in Karachi killed four people and wounded five others when they resisted their separate mugging bids, causing further alarm among residents who have been highlighting the rising incidence of street crimes and robberies in the metropolis on social media.

Screenshots taken from post on Halaat Updates Facebook.
Screenshots taken from post on Halaat Updates Facebook.

Dr Ali Zafar, whose house in Defence Phase 2 was looted by armed robbers on Friday, told Dawn.com of the stress and trauma his family is facing besides the huge financial losses they incurred.

"Eight people stormed into my house and looted everything. Apart from the financial loss that we incurred which might take decades to rebuild, the trauma and mental stress that my mother and kids suffered and continue to suffer is something that will remain in their minds [for the rest of their lives].

"No one can imagine the trauma and stress that we, as a family, are going through," he lamented.

Zafar said he had turned his "anger and pain" at the robbery into a mission for justice and making sure the criminals ended up behind bars.

"[My actions] might save so many families from the never-ending harassment, trauma and financial loss that we had to go through," he added.

Street crimes on the rise

Data obtained from the Citizens-​Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) website shows a marked increase in street crime in Karachi, especially in theft of motorcycles and snatching of mobile phones.

During the first quarter of the current year, incidence of street crimes rose sharply and more than 30 people were killed while resisting armed robberies and mugging attempts.

At the same time, Karachiites lost millions of rupees in armed robberies and snatching at gunpoint with no district of the city remaining safe from the reach of criminals.

Read: Street crimes register alarming rise in Karachi in Jan-March period

Over the month of April alone, 4,129 motorcycles were stolen while 2,189 mobile phones were snatched on gunpoint.

'Failure of criminal justice system'

Police officials in Karachi too acknowledge that the menace of street crimes is on the rise. A senior police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Dawn.com there were three main reasons behind the unabated street crimes: failure of the criminal justice system, lack of interest by complainants in pursuing cases and drug addicts.

"It is known in police that [deterrence] is the best form of prevention of crimes. When criminals are arrested, they easily get bail even though police may be blamed for faulty investigation. If a suspect involved in lifting of motorcycles is arrested along with several [stolen two-wheelers], there is a possibility that he may be released on bail within one week."

Because of the criminal justice system, there was no deterrence, he said.

The official said that complainants "rarely pursue the case and appear before the courts to give evidence", adding that when they showed interest, the police also sprung into action.

The officer cited two recent cases, one of them being the murder of Zain Effendi, a great grandson of Hasan Ali Effendi, founder of Sindh Madressatul Islam University, saying the 'real' culprits were arrested as the family pursued the case.

Another case was that of a young man living in the Tipu Sultan area whose house was robbed. The person also tweeted about the incident. The police took interest in the case and arrested the suspect, the officer said.

He recalled that around two years ago, Karachi was considered the second top-most city in the world in terms of consumption of charas (hashish). Around 70-80 per cent of street criminals were stated to be drug addicts whose main motive was to generate money for the purchase of drugs, he said.

"These drugs addicts are also trigger happy as they don't have control over weapons," he added.

He urged the government to build rehabilitation centres for such addicts as jails were already overcrowded.

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