Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Sial suspended seven station house officers (SHOs) of the provincial police in Karachi over their alleged failure to control street crime and misbehaviour with complainants on Wednesday.
Sial's move comes a day after robbers stormed a private microfinance bank in the old city's Kharadar area, looting over half a million rupees in what is reportedly the sixth heist in Karachi this year. The police today said nine suspects had been arrested.
Sial announced the police suspensions during a meeting reviewing Karachi's law and order situation.
During the meeting, he expressed concern over rising street crime in the city, and complaints reported against SHOs, as well as the behaviour of police station staff towards citizens, the home ministry's official spokesperson said.
The review meeting today was attended by Additional Inspector General (AIG) Sindh, AIG Karachi and other police officials. Sial warned police officials to improve their performance or face strict action
SHOs of Preedy, Sacchal, Liaquatabad, Mominabad, Saudabad, Risala and Jamshed Quarters police stations were among those suspended.
"One SHO from each district of Karachi is being suspended initially," and this process will continue based on performance evaluations every three months, Sial cautioned.
"This mechanism shall be implemented throughout the province", he said.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, the home minister said that the AIG Special Branch has been assigned the task of providing quarterly reports about the performance of police station staffers, whereas the AIG Crimes will submit police station performance reports "with special reference to action against organised crimes".
Multiple armed robbers had stormed a microfinance bank located on Napier Road, holding security guards and staffers at gunpoint, fleeing with Rs600,000 in just five minutes. Bank management allegedly had not followed the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent such robberies.
Police today claimed to have arrested nine people ─ including three women ─ suspected of involvement in the robbery.
Senior Superintendent Police City Adeel Hussain Chandio told reporters at a press conference that the robbers managed to loot the bank with the help of insiders.
"Three staff members of the bank orchestrated the robbery to conceal misappropriations worth over Rs10 million," he revealed.
Three employees of the bank, including a woman, had stolen cash and gold ornaments worth over Rs10m from the bank, Chandio said.
Providing details about the heist, Chandio said that at around 8:35am on Tuesday, three robbers entered the bank, stealing Rs678,724 in cash, gold ornaments, four mobile phones, a security guard's pistol, and the bank's digital video recording system.
Subsequently, Deputy Inspector General South Azad Khan set up a joint team which arrested the nine suspects involved and recovered the looted cash and other valuables from their possession.
SSP Chandio said the police arrested the bank's operations manager identified as Habib who, during interrogation, told authorities that he, along with the bank's assistant cashier, Mushtaq, and a micro-credit officer, Saima, had allegedly stolen cash and gold ornaments from the bank on multiple occasions.
The held suspect told investigators that since the bank's head office began an audit of the branch, they were fearful of the consequences of their actions. To avoid discovery, Saima and two accomplices, Hawa and Rozina, allegedly planned a bank robbery, according to Habib.
Later Hawa and Rozina spoke to another suspect, Rizwan Irshad, who along with his other accomplices, Abdul Karim, Sultan and Naqash, committed the robbery, Chandio quoted Habib as saying.
The SSP said that the joint team, with the technical assistance of SIU police, arrested all suspects involved in the robbery.
Besides the half a dozen bank heists, a money changer had been robbed in the Boat Basin area in which the security firm owner was arrested on abetment charges in April. His two guards were found involved in the robbery, which was the biggest heist in the city this year.
The number of bank heists in the metropolis has dropped significantly in the past two years mainly due to proactive policing and ongoing Rangers-led operations, but the off-and-on strikes by bandits remain a challenge for the investigators.
In 2015, five bank branches were looted, 24 in 2014, while 28 banks met the same fate in 2013, 23 in 2012, 19 in 2011, 20 in 2010 and less than 20 in 2009.