RAHIM YAR KHAN: An alleged gangster was killed while his six accomplices and a policeman were injured after Punjab police launched a ‘grand operation’ against robbers and kidnappers in the katcha area of the Indus near the Sindh border on Sunday.
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Usman Anwar at a presser at the DPO office here said an intelligence-based operation against the outlaws was already in progress for the last few months after kidnap-for-ransom cases increased this year.
He said the grand operation was launched in the early hours of Sunday on the reports of a premiere intelligence agency of the country and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab.
Dr Anwar said both the agencies were keeping an eye on the activities of criminals in the area and their facilitators. “We are treating the facilitators based in the riverbed as terrorists and warned them against giving shelters to the outlaws.”
11,000 police personnel taking part in action
Sources said the operation was started in Machka and Katcha Karachi areas where several hideouts of the criminal were eliminated. They said the IGP and his team came under fire when they reached Machka.
The IGP said mainstreaming the katcha area dwellers by opening schools, dispensaries and building roads along the river was necessary to stop misuse of the territory. The IGP said office of the CTD head is being shifted to Rahim Yar Khan till the completion of the operation. “To maintain law and order in the area, there is a need of a very strict operation to clear the area from criminals.”
He said according to the National Security Council (NSC) decisions all resources would be provided to the police. He said it was an ideal time for police to establish/restore check posts in the area before monsoon.
A press release issued by the office of the Regional Police Officer of Bahawalpur Rai Babar Saeed identified the dead as Mustafa who was killed during the exchange of fire. The RPO said 11,000 police personnel drawn from other police ranges had participated in Sunday’s operation. They included 5,000 personnel from the Punjab Constabulary and 2,000 from Multan, DG Khan and Bahawalpur police ranges.
Meanwhile, Dacoits looted Rs1.1 million, snatched a bike and iPhone from a trader near the Dashti Farm area of Machka at 6pm when the IGP was leading the operation, it is learnt Katcha area
The Indus bed falling between Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur districts is 15 to 20km wide where water runs in the shape of large and small steams for 10 to 11 months in a year. It is completely filled during monsoon floods.
The kacha area which stretches up to Dehrki and Obaro in Sindh is over 100km long. So far six major operations have been carried out in the area since 2006.During the 2016 operation against the Chotu gang, army was called out after police failure to clear the area.
The IGP did not agree with a questioner that main police operations in the area had been carried out in the past during the wheat harvesting season and bulk of the yield was taken away by the personnel posted or patrolling in the area.
During the last two years, the gangsters had changed their kidnap strategy. They now phone their potential victims and lure them through girls with marriage offers. Through this mode, they would strike in the entire Punjab. In a couple of cases, their victims came from Peshawar.
In some cases, they would attract people by offering them used tractors, cars and bikes at cheap prices.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2023