LAHORE: Men from Punjab districts continue to fall into honey traps of the gangs of Katcha areas of Kashmore and Ghotki in Sindh despite repeated warnings given by police and law-enforcement departments. In yet another honey-trap case, an employee of Rescue 1122 of Bahawalpur has fallen into the trap of the gangs.

Saleem Abid Hashmi, the shift in-charge of Rescue 1122, a resident of Bahawalpur, was kidnapped for ransom on Feb 15. A couple of days later, the kidnappers released a video clip of him, demanding Rs10m from his family for his release. After the video clip, Hashmi’s family came to know that he was kidnapped by the gangs of district Kashmore of Sindh province and registered a kidnap case.

Bahawalpur District Emergency Officer Baqir Hussain has also written a letter to the district police officer (DPO) complaining against the abduction of his subordinate, Hashmi, by the Katcha gangs for ransom.

“The kidnappers have shared a video through his (Hashmi’s) WhatsApp number and demanded Rs10m for his release,” reads the letter (a copy available with Dawn).

In the fresh incident, officer of Rescue 1122 falls into gangs trap

Bahawalpur Regional Police Officer (RPO) Rai Babar confirmed to Dawn that Hashmi was honey-trapped by the Kashmore’s notorious gangsters. He said the Bahawalpur DPO had written an official letter to his counterpart in Kashmore for a joint operation against the gangsters for the release of the abductee.

While sharing details of the investigation, the RPO said a team, headed by Bahawalpur SP investigation, was working on the case.

“During the course of the investigation, the CDR (call detail record) of the cell phone number used by the alleged abductee was obtained and analysed.”

According to the obtained data, Rai Babar said, the last location of the alleged abductee was of Mauza Bidani Gandair in district Kashmore of Sindh province.

“The CDR further revealed that the dacoits had honey-trapped the Rescue 1122 employee by using the cell phone number 03048319054,” he said, adding that the suspected robbers had used the SIM card of the abductee in another cell phone.

The kidnappers had earlier used nine SIM cards of two different cellular companies in that particular mobile phone, which proved that an organised gang of hardened criminals was behind the honey-trap cases.

While sharing the findings of a high-level inquiry surrounding the honey trap methodology adopted by the gangsters of the Katach areas, the RPO said the cases of kidnap for ransom through honey trap in various parts of province were on the rise.

“Information from the recovered abductees in past cases revealed that they were lured by women friendship or lucrative business deals. They were initially asked to travel to relatively known towns of Punjab like Sadiqabad and Rahim Yar Khan. During the telephonic contact, after they would reach Sindh-Punjab border, they were further lured into crossing into Ghotki or Kashmore from where they were kidnapped to Katcha area of the Sindh,” RPO Babar said.

The investigation revealed that gangs involved in honey traps were not based in Punjab and their hideouts are located in Katcha Ronti (Ghotki) and Katcha Kashmore where Shar, Jagirani, Taygani, Kosh, Bhayo and Jatoi gangs were involved in honey traps, he claimed.

In all cases of honey trap in all parts of the country, he alleged, the investigations showed the location of kidnappers in the Katcha area of Sindh.

“No gang of dacoits is known to have any hideout or safe haven in any part of Punjab as is wrongly perceived in general,” Mr Rai claimed.

Regarding the case of Rescue 1122 staffer Hashmi, he said the Punjab Police had shared the initial findings of the investigation with the Sindh inspector general of police, seeking his help to trace the culprits for the safe release of the abductee.

“We have taken into loop Sindh IGP Riffat Raja for assistance to the Bahawalpur police in the arrest of the gang members and recovery of the abductee.”

The RPO Bahawalpur said the teams dispatched from Bahawalpur were also trying to engage the influential people of Kashmore district for mediation.

According to him, due to this geographical location, the police in Rahim Yar Khan have also taken preventive measures to thwart these attempts of honey trapping. The Rahim Yar Khan police established anti-honey trap counters on border check posts of Daowala (Sadiqabad-Kashmore Road) and Kot Sabzal (KLP Road). Hundreds of potential honey-trap victims have been disembarked from their vehicles after they were interviewed on these posts by the Rahim Yar Khan police.

With the cooperation of Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Rahim Yar Khan police have thwarted hundreds of honey-trapping attempts and saved people from falling into the traps of lucrative business deals as a ploy to invite the victims to Katcha areas of Sindh.

The RPO maintained that special awareness campaigns through various platforms have also been launched to alert the public to be careful of honey traps.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2024

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