HYDERABAD: Former inspector-general of Sindh police Ghulam Nabi Memon has said that operation against dacoits in the riverine areas must continue but the forces engaged in it should not fall prey to any expediencies.
He was speaking to journalists at a private school, where he attended passing out of class-XII students, on Saturday night.
He stressed the need for capacity-building of police pointing out that their accessibility to hideouts deep into in the gang-infested riverine area appeared difficult and highly risky as the gangs possessed some of military-grade weapons.
He did not agree with the claim that the gangs had ‘Nato weapons’ with them, but confirmed that they had some military-grade weapons which they had been using against police. “But this is indeed a source of concern. In fact, illicit weapons have again become a profitable business over the years owing to the ‘war economy’ and ‘crime economy’ in our periphery. This led to illicit arms trade. Dacoits spend a lot of money to obtain small and big military-grade weapons to match the fire power of police’s armoured personnel carriers (APCs),” he said.
Stresses need for continuing operation with intelligence-sharing, police penetration into Kandhkot-Kashmore riverine area
Although police appeared to be on some disadvantage as their access deep into the riverine area was restricted by dacoits having military-grade weapons, government must show the will [to fight them out], he said.
Pre-operation situation recalled
The former IGP, Ghulam Nabi Memon, had been planning an anti-dacoits operation until he was transferred soon after the incumbent caretaker government was put in place.
He recalled that when Kalashnikov was introduced, criminals got them first and police were given it belatedly. “When police will get military-grade weapons, they will be in an advantageous position. No one can fight against state,” he said, adding that continuity of the operation with intelligence-sharing was necessary.
The ex-provincial police chief said that there were ‘no-go areas’ in the riverine belt for police but wherever these areas were opened up by police, the dacoit factor had been eliminated.
“Currently, Kashmore district needs such an opening for a permanent solution to the problem. Wherever bridges are built, things show a positive change. The Ghotki-Kandhkot bridge will make a big difference once its construction is completed,” he said.
Significance of committee
About the committee he had constituted during his tenure, he said the IGP’s office had a crucial role to play for the purpose of coordination and collaboration. “The purpose of forming the committee was to ensure better coordination and collaboration so that essential understanding [among officers] is developed for continuing the anti-dacoit operation,” he said.
Intelligence agencies’ role
Mr Memon said that military institutions and secret agencies were in a better position viz-a-viz intelligence-sharing while police had to fight against dacoits with financial support from government.
He emphasised the need for continuing with this mechanism.
“[Sindh] government had sought permission for [equipping police with] military-grade weapons and the same was given by the concerned agencies,” he said.
He was confident that provision of such weapons would substantially increase fire power of police.
Lately, the ex-IGP pointed out, police had succeeded in eliminating dreaded ringleaders like Sharif Bhangwar, Sulto Shar and Janu Indher and their gang members.
“An ordinary criminal idealises dacoits and adopts their strategy to earn easy money with the result that the number of dacoits keep multiplying,” he observed. But, he added, whenever police took action, the gangsters were eliminated.
He also pointed out that the methodology of ‘honey trap’ also came to an end now after 12 years.
“After a decline in honey trap cases, dacoits started kidnappings at gunpoint; kidnapping for ransom has become a multibillion rupees industry; however, police picketing has addressed this issue to a great extent. “Many victims were kidnapped on the left side of Indus river where the motorway and Bachao Bund run parallel, he said, and noted that when picketing took place in the area, such incidents showed a sharp decline.
The gangs then started kidnapping people from the outer side of the riverine area to create an impression that police were helpless, he said.
Pressure on police
“Police have to go on back foot when protests are held and the media highlights such issues; and this results in government’s increased pressure on police. Then police have to make a strategy to release this pressure,” he said.
The former IGP revealed that dacoits often asked their hostages to tell their relatives to hold public protest in lieu of their release without getting ransom. “This is dacoits’ tactic to make government to increase pressure on police.
Mr Memon said that the general public and media needed to understand that they would have to bear with the pressure in the wake of operation against dacoits. “Otherwise, symptomatic treatment only manages crimes which aggravates the situation rather than controlling it,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2023