LAHORE: The Punjab police have intensified the Kacha area operation by fielding six armoured personnel carriers (APCs), provided by the Pakistan Army, killed a hardened criminal, and arrested eight facilitators after a fierce exchange of fire with gangs holed up in Chak Chirag Shah, Kacha Moro, and Kucha Jamal areas.
The police reportedly set on fire four hideouts of the Sukhani gangs and other dacoits, besides demolishing supporting structures. About 11,000 police personnel, including Counter Terrorism Department officials, are taking part in the large-scale operation.
Dera Ghazi Khan Regional Police Officer retired Captain Sajjad Hasan Khan and DPO Mehr Nasir Syal have been leading the operations for the last eight days or so.
According to the late-night reports, the Punjab police forces cordoned off the Chirag Shah area after a fierce exchange of fire with the criminals.
A spokesperson for the Punjab police said that the hideout of the Kokani gang was destroyed and the advancement of police squads continued amid intermittent exchange of fire in the Katcha Ghani Lathani area.
He said the police camps have been established after clearing thousands of acres.
On Sunday, he said, a heavy exchange of fire took place between the criminals and the police forces when they continued to advance under Rahim Yar Khan DPO Rizwan Umar Gondal near Basti Ghani Lathani of Katcha.
The police, however, got back complete control of the areas by destroying several hideouts of the hardened criminals, he said.
Similarly, police cordoned off the hideouts of Fareeda Kakoni after a fierce exchange of fire with the criminals.
The police forces recovered from them a child of Jhuk Biradri, whom the criminals had kidnapped for ransom, the spokesperson for the Punjab police said.
DPO Gondal said that the Rahim Yar Khan police achieved significant success in the Katcha operation, in which so far three dacoits have been killed and six others arrested.
He said that the Punjab police have taken control back of thousands of acres in Katcha areas in the ongoing operation which was considered to be ‘no go areas’.
Despite these considerable gain gains, reports said the police faced fierce resistance from the gangs, who appeared to be equipped with deadly weapons in riverine areas of south Punjab.
An official source said that the weapons and other logistics of the Punjab police force were ‘unable’ to hit the robbers taking cover behind bushes and islands.
He said that the APCs of the Punjab police could not move in the marshy areas.
The Punjab police had faced the same situation in November last year when it launched a large-scale operation against the criminals of the Kacha areas of Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur.
At that time, the Punjab police had demanded seven track APCs, 14 bullet-proof vehicles, and six bullet-proof boats, besides drones, locators, and other logistic support for the teams. It also highlighted specific challenges the Punjab police force faced due to the river course and several creeks.
Following the situation, the source said, the south Punjab police had demanded Rs5 billion to procure ‘missing war equipment’ for sustainable gains in the operation launched against criminals in the Katcha areas.
Since then, nothing was provided to the police.
Punjab police chief Dr Usman Anwar said the Punjab police received Rs110 million under the head of petrol and food for the personnel taking part in the ongoing operation.
“We have relaunched six APCs provided by the Pakistan Army against the criminals in the Kacha areas,” South Punjab Additional IG police Maqsoodul Hassan told Dawn on Sunday. The police also received sniper rifles from the army.
He said a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Defence and the Punjab government.
The riverine bed stretches to nearly 25 kilometres where special boats are required to cross the river to fight the hardened criminals.
Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2023