KARACHI: Four policemen were on Wednesday arrested for their alleged involvement in theft of over Rs20 million cash from malkhana, or storage of case properties,of the Artillery Maidan police station.

The incident not only put a question mark over the security of case properties at similar police facilities across the city but also cast doubts as to why such a huge amount of cash was not handed over to the person who actually owned it.

South-SSP Syed Asad Raza said that a group of robbers had snatched the cash from a jeweller in Saddar. However, the suspects had been arrested and the cash recovered by police.

Narrating the whole episode, the SSP said that on Feb 2, jeweller Muhammad Akbar reported that he came to Karachi from Lahore to sell gold worth Rs30m in Saddar gold market. He later got the cash in shape of Rs5,000 banknote bundles. He along with another person put the money in a suitcase and hired a rickshaw, driven by Naeem Ahmed, and moved towards the Cantonment Railway Station to take the first train for onward journey to Lahore.

Question arises as to why huge amount of money is kept at police custody

When they reached at the Begum Nusrat Bhutto underpass near Mehran Hotel, four men riding two motorcycles intercepted the rickshaw due to which, the three-wheeler overturned and the occupants got injured. The armed robbers snatched the suitcase and other things from the rickshaw occupants and rode away. After registration of a case, the police arrested seven suspects and recovered over Rs20m cash from them, the SSP added.

While the trial against the held suspect was under way, the recovered cash was deposited at the malkhana of the police station concerned until it was stolen.

Police said that the cash, Rs20,775,000, was presented before the trial court on Sept 26 and the investigating officer of the case, Sub-Inspector (SI) Gohar Mehmood, deposited the cash in the safe of malkhana, and locked it on the same day in the presence of Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Abdullah who checked the cash and locked the main door of the storage facility.

They said that when the malkhana was checked on Oct 11, the lock of the safe was found broken and the cash missing.

SSP Raza said that the Artillery Maidan police had detained four policemen, including IO Gohar Mehmood and ASI Abdullah and registered a case under Section 409 (breach of trust) of the Pakistan Penal Code against them.

According to the FIR, during initial investigations it transpired that ASI Abdullah was responsible for the malkhana and the key of the safe was in the custody of IO Mehmood.

“There is a strong possibility that ASI Abdullah, SI Mehmood, a duty officer and sentry in collusion with each other have embezzled the cash,” the FIR read.

The SSP said that investigations were under way and the four policemen would be prosecuted.

A source said that the police had asked the court concerned to release the case property but their request wasn’t decided.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2022

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