Three robbery suspects were rescued by Qutbpur police on Wednesday night after they were caught and severely beaten up by residents of Rangeelpur.
The suspects – Waheed, Sajid and Ashiq – were doused with kerosene oil and were about to be set on fire when Qutbpur police station house officer Imran Asghar and his team intervened and took them into custody.
A forth suspect, Faisal, had earlier fled the scene.
Sher Muhammad, a resident of Rangeelpur, and his neighbours Mobeen and Saleem said they had handed over the three men to police after they were assured that they would not be released. “If the suspects are not taken to task this time, we’ll file a complaint with the city police officer,” he said. He said if satisfactory action is not taken and robberies continue unchecked, the residents would bypass the police and decide punishments for those caught in future on their own.
Muhammad said robbery incidents had become routine in the neighbourhood. He said two suspects caught three months ago by the residents were released by police without prosecution. At least 27 robberies took place in Rangeelpur over the past few months, he added.
On Wednesday night, the suspects were caught from Mobeen’s house while trying to flee after their attempt to rob Muhammad’s family failed, he said.
SI Iftikhar Gillani said the number of robberies reported in the past few months was 14. He said the suspects given into police custody three months ago had been released because there was no evidence against them. “Police cannot prosecute someone without evidence,” he said.
He said the suspects have been moved to Shah Shams police station where a robbery case has been registered against them. The SI said the injuries of the suspects were not very serious and felt there was no need to prosecute the attackers.
The robbery attempt was foiled by Muhammad’s granddaughter, whose cries attracted the attention of some neighbours.
Talking to The Express Tribune in police custody, Ashiq said he had hit the girl because she was crying very loudly. “I feared the noise would draw people to the scene,” he said. Later, he said, his accomplices decided to run away after he accidently fired a few bullets in the air.
“It was the first time I had tried to rob a house,” said Ashiq. He added that he had a dishwasher’s job at a nearby roadside restaurant.
Ashiq said he was asked by Waheed, a cook at the restaurant, to join him and Sajid in robbing Muhammad’s house. The suspects said the robbery attempt was preceded by two weeks’ surveillance over the house.
In another incident in Shujabad, villagers allegedly killed a robbery suspect in a shootout after he and others had failed to rob Hammad’s dera. Shujabad police have registered a case. The body of the deceased had yet to be identified.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2012.