• 18 forward base camps, 400 check posts being set up
• Corps Commander Iftikhar asks Rangers to provide security for Ghotki-Kashmore bridge construction
• CS told to approach interior ministry for military-grade weapons
KARACHI: The Sindh Apex Committee — a forum of civil and military officials — on Friday reviewed the law and order situation in riverine areas of the province, approved and finalised details of a massive operation to be launched by police and Rangers against dacoit gangs in affected districts of upper Sindh.
The approval of an operation has been given multiple times. First, the then Murad Ali Shah-led cabinet had in March approved a grand operation clean-up in riverine areas. Then, the caretaker cabinet took up the matter in its meeting on Sept 14 and decided to launch a massive operation in riverine area and shutdown of internet services.
And on Friday, the 28th meeting of the Apex Committee approved yet another time a comprehensive joint operation with army and Rangers against dacoits in the riverine areas. However, this time the meeting had an in-depth discussion on the plan of the operation in the riverine area.
Talking to Dawn after the meeting, caretaker Home Minister retired Brigadier Haris Nawaz hoped that the operation would formally begin “within a week”.
The meeting was chaired by caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Maqbool Barar. It was attended by Corps Commander Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar, Chief Secretary Dr Fakhre Alam, Rangers director general Maj Gen Azhar Waqas, Inspector General of Police Riffat Mukhtar, caretaker law minister Omer Soomro, Home Secretary Iqbal Memon and others.
It was told that the Rangers had been deployed along with police in upper Sindh districts and a crackdown on organised weapon smuggling had resulted in the seizure of the first cache of military-grade weapons in Ghotki.
The IGP shared a comprehensive joint operation plan to clear hideouts in the riverine area in which army troops would provide aerial support.
The meeting was told that 18 forward base camps were being established with 50 personnel each in the riverine areas of Ghotki, Kashmore, Shikarpur and Sukkur. Around 400 police check posts were being established, while 3,200 policemen had already been deployed at 210 such posts.
The CM was disappointed to know that dacoit gangs had stopped work to construct the Ghotki-Kashmore bridge. Upon which, the corps commander instructed the Rangers and police to reach the spot immediately and provide security to construction workers.
The apex body was told that sophisticated military-grade weapons such as sniper rifles, grenade launchers, mortars, night vision devices, and drones were required for the operation.
However, it was disclosed in the meeting that a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the purchase of such weapons was pending approval with the interior ministry.
The corps commander informed the meeting that the defence ministry had already given clearance for the provision of military-grade weapons to police and the interior ministry had to issue a formal NOC.
Justice Baqar directed the chief secretary to approach the interior ministry for the NOC on procurement of military-grade weapons from the army.
Operation against street crime
The meeting was informed that 39,884 cases of street crime had been reported in 2013 which kept increasing to 85,502 in 2022, while 61,098 cases were reported this year.
After a thorough discussion, the apex body decided to launch a joint operation of police and Rangers against street criminals and drug mafia in the metropolis.
While the chief executive officer of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation was present in the meeting, the Rangers director general briefed the apex body about an ongoing operation against illegal hydrants in the city.
He said that 27 operations had been conducted across the metropolis in which 27 illegal hydrants had been dismantled and 43 persons were arrested.
Published in Dawn, September 23th, 2023