• Over 5,000 citizens deprived of their cell phones, cars and motorbikes in January and February, meeting told
• CM starts his third term in office with pledge to crush street criminals, riverine area gangs

KARACHI: Newly elected Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who started his third term in office on Wednesday, was informed that armed robbers had killed as many as 23 citizens in Karachi during January and February.

Inspector General of Police Riffat Mukhtar revealed the harrowing statistics on street crime in Karachi at a meeting, chaired by the CM, held to review overall law and order situation in the province with a specific reference to street crime in Karachi and activities of dacoit gangs in riverine areas.

The IGP informed the CM that a total of 3,953 mobile phones were snatched at gunpoint during the first two months in the metropolis.

He said that as many as 46 cars and 1,537 motorbikes were taken away by criminals from different parts of the city during the same period.

To a question, the IGP informed the CM that incidents of street crime were high within the remit of 22 of the city’s 108 police stations.

The CM sought the list of these 22 police and asked the IGP to identify the hotspots so that special focus could be given to them.

Mr Shah directed Karachi police chief Khadim Rind to get all SSPs on the roads in the evening.

He was of the view that most cases of street crime took place after sunset so police patrolling and their presence on roads must be ensured to curb the menace.

The CM also ordered authorities to double the number of policemen at the city’s 108 police stations when he was informed that although the strength of Karachi police was 48,000 but only 12,000 law enforcers were posted at police station level.

He directed the IGP to rationalise the force deployed in other units to raise the strength at police stations from 12,000 to 24,000.

25,000 posts vacant in police

The IGP informed the CM that there were 25,000 vacant posts of policemen in the province. At this, the CM directed him to start the recruitment process purely on merit.

He said that he wanted to strengthen the investigation process. “Due to poor investigation, heinous criminals get bail and again go into their crime world,” he said and directed the IGP to arrange his meeting with investigators and prosecutors.

The chief minister said that only the police and other law enforcement agencies were authorised to use strobe lights and no other vehicle would be allowed to use them.

Taking notice of display of weapons by private security guards and personnel in plain clothes, the chief minister directed the IGP to take action against such people.

He also directed the authorities to immediately commence the Karachi Safe City project without any delay, citing the urgent need to address security threats and ensure the safety of the city.

Riverine area gangs

At the outset of the meeting, the chief minister said that the dacoits had established their sway in the riverine areas of Larkana and Sukkur divisions.

“I am not happy with the increasing trend of street crime and kidnapping for ransom in Larkana and Sukkur division,” he said.

To a question, the IGP told the CM that only 14 cases of kidnapping for ransom were unsolved.

The CM directed the IGP to work out a plan to launch a crackdown on criminal gangs in riverine area.

He said that he was waiting for the formation of a new government in Balochistan so that a joint strategy with Punjab and Balochistan could be evolved to launch a joint operation.

Rs2bn for renovation of police stations

The IGP informed the CM that 708 police stations across the province, including 108 in Karachi, were in a dilapidated condition. He requested the CM to approve funds to get all the police stations repaired.

The CM directed the finance secretary to release Rs2 billion to the police department so that affected buildings of police stations could be repaired.

During the meeting, Rangers chief Major General Azhar Waqas informed the CM that the paramilitary force was carrying out an intelligence-based targeted operation against drug mafia, terrorists and street criminals.

He said that the Rangers had been sent to the riverine area so that work on the Ghotki-Kandhkot bridge could be resumed.

Home Secretary Iqbal Memon told the CM that the work on the bridge had been started and police and Rangers have provided them with ample security.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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