KARACHI, Jan 22: The police authorities are considering setting up a separate force for the city’s industrial areas because the law-enforcers have failed to take coordinated action against criminals, as was ordered by President Pervez Musharraf when industrialists meeting him warned that they would shift away their production units if the serious security threats persisted.

Enquiries from senior officials, industrialists and sources in the Sindh police after a meeting held to review the security measures in the industrial areas on Tuesday showed that the authorities had new plans to handle the increasing crime trend in the estates, which had witnessed murders and kidnaps of businessmen in less than six months. The meeting was presided over by the capital city police officer.

“A proposal to set up a separate force for all the five (Site, Korangi, Landhi, Federal B Area and North Karachi) industrial estates of the city came under discussion,” said a source having contacts with both industrialists and police officials.

“Though the proposal doesn’t pose any harm to the ongoing efforts against criminals, who have been involved in many crimes in all the five areas in general and in North Karachi and Federal B Area in particular, it may take the original line of action, which was designed after the industrialists met the president a few days ago.”

Alarm bells ringing

He said the kidnapping and safe recovery of an industrialist, also a senior member of North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry, in the North Karachi industrial area, set off alarm bells in the quarters concerned and caused the industrialists to approach the president, who was then in town.

“After their meeting with the president, the authorities decided to move against criminals with a joint team from Gulberg Town police, Gulshan-i-Iqbal Town police and Rangers. But unfortunately despite the passage of a significant period no such move has been witnessed except for the new proposal, which may take more time to get realized,” he added.

Meanwhile, police sources cited various reasons behind the new proposal. A senior official admitted that influence from gangs of criminals could be one of the reasons, which discouraged any action.

“They (criminals) are so influential that their tentacles reach senior officers,” he said. “Another reason is the inability of one of the towns’ police to handle the situation and they initially presented an excuse that action against criminals could create a law and order situation in Sohrab Goth and the adjoining areas.”

He said a police team had gathered facts about nine gangs led by different people and some of them had links inside the troubled tribal areas, which mainly operated in both industrial areas. The arrest of a close aide of Baitullah Mehsud in such an area on Monday reflected the need for action against such criminals in those areas, he added.

Though the industrialist kidnapped in the North Karachi industrial area was recovered in a joint action by the Citizen-Police Liaison Committee and the Anti-Violent Crime Unit, which killed one of the kidnappers, the incident sparked fears among the owners of more than 2,000 industrial units in the area.

Similarly, it also heightened concerns of the industrialists of the adjoining Federal B Area industrial estate, housing some 2,300 production units. Representatives of both industrial areas are convinced only a comprehensive strategy against the culprits would deliver the desired results.

“There has been a rise in extortion and kidnapping cases in the area,” said Idrees Gigi, chairman of the Federal B Area Association of Trade and Industry. “The most commonly witnessed approach is that gangsters hijack our consignments when they leave for the port and release them after acquiring protection money.”

He appeared satisfied with the policy being designed by the police authorities, but suggested lasting arrangements for the protection of the industrialists and their stakes in the area.

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