Kidnapping-for-ransom cases may rise in Ramazan

Published: August 9, 2010

Officials in Karachi fear the number of kidnappings this year may exceed 100

KARACHI: With Ramazan around the corner, law enforcement agencies are expecting kidnapping-for-ransom cases to rise in the city.

“We have observed over the years that crime in general, and especially kidnapping-for-ransom cases, increase manifold just days before and during Ramazan,” says SSP Anti Violent Crime Cell Abdullah Sheikh.

The claim is backed by Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) chief Ahmed Chinoy. “People should take special precautions during this time,” Chinoy says.

According to Sheikh, one of the main reasons for the increase in crime during the period is that “even criminals have to prepare for Eid.” He added that the police force is aware of the threat and will make efforts to nab the gangs.

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Fourteen such gangs have been busted so far this year. But Chinoy admits that “the police efforts can become much more effective if they are provided with better equipment and facilities.” For instance, police should be given the technology to trace the locations from where mobile phone calls are made. At the moment, they have to rely on intelligence agencies for this information and they claim that it hampers their efforts in solving cases.

Militant groups or criminal networks

It is a myth that militant groups are behind all kidnapping-for-ransom cases in the city, Sheikh says. “They are numerous organised networks of kidnappers operating in the city and the majority of them have no affiliation with any militant group.”

Most of these criminals have bases in interior Sindh and Balochistan, according to the police official. “For example, a gang run by criminal Mashrooq Grohi kidnaps people from Karachi and takes them to interior Sindh, while another run by criminal Bruda Brohi takes victims to their hideouts in Balochistan and demands ransom from there.”

However, that is not to say that militant groups are carrying out kidnappings. One case in which an al Qaeda affiliated North Waziristan-based group was involved was that of the kidnapping of film distributor Satish Anand who was abducted from Karachi, informs an official on condition of anonymity.

“There is one major difference between kidnappings carried out by organised crime networks and terrorist groups. A person who is kidnapped by a terrorist group takes a lot of time to recover. The issue is mostly settling the ransom amount. Such groups usually demand ransom in foreign currency, particularly in dollars,” the official says. Anand was released after five months in captivity, reportedly after payment of ransom. Those kidnapped by non-militant groups usually return home within four to six weeks.

Facts and figures

According to police records and CPLC data, 64 cases of kidnappings for ransom have taken place in Karachi since January. Out of these, three took place in August, two of them from Gadap Town. Seven reported cases have taken place since July 18, which includes the case of 24-year-old Farooq Ali, who was kidnapped from Clifton. None of the seven have been recovered so far. In addition, three people kidnapped prior to July have also not been recovered. Master Muhammad Hussain, kidnapped on March 24 from PIB Colony, has still not been recovered.

The victims are almost always men. Former chief of the CPLC and current board member Sharfuddin Memon says one reason could be that “although it may be easier to kidnap women, it’s difficult to hold them in captivity for long periods.”

Memon says women are mostly held up for shorter periods of time. “For example, a criminal may hold up a woman in a car, rob her jewellery and cash, and then let her go.”

Memon also feels it is possible that such kidnappings, which are usually resolved within 24 hours, go unreported. “But all other cases, which apparently last longer, are reported either to the CPLC or the police.” In 17 of the 64 cases this year, the victim’s families did not lodge an FIR.

Most of the victims have been adults though 20 victims this year were under twenty years of age. Seven of these were aged 10 and below and the youngest was three-year-old Arsh Nabi who was kidnapped by armed men from Defence on January 14 and released ten days later. Thirteen others were between 11 and 20 years of age.

June so far has been the worst month, with 15 reported cases, followed by January in which 14 cases were reported.

In 2008, a record 92 cases were reported in Sindh, followed by 85 cases in 2009. With 64 kidnapping cases having taken place already this year, officials expect the figure may soon cross 100.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2010.

Reader Comments (7)

  • Aug 9, 2010 - 2:01AM

    Better facilities and equipment can’t do anything unless they have a ‘will’ to burst gangs in Lyari, ask Ahmed Chinoy (CPLC) why can’t they access Lyari. I have been in touch with CPLC during my brother’s kidnapping case and Mr. Ahmed Chinoy and other CPLC personnel was simply helpless when they got to know that they kept my 15 year old brother in Lyari. Unless political pressure removes from police they can never burst gangs completely.

    Our police and Rangers are efficient but under severe pressure. Although I appreciate services of CPLC.

    ET readers may read kidnapping story of my brother here:
    http://tanzeel.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/sameer/Recommend

  • Salman Siddiqui
    Aug 9, 2010 - 7:45PM

    Dear Tanzeel,

    I read about the ordeal which you, your brother and your entire family went through. It’s horrific. I’m saddened to hear about it but at the same I’m glad that it was a happy ending. Your brother came back home. I wonder how many cases end up otherwise. You’re absolutely right that the authorities don’t dare go in certain areas. Anyways, thank you for sharing your story. I wish I had spoken with you before I wrote this report and I would have included your account too. In any case, write to me at [email protected] Would like to know further about how your brother’s life changed after this incident. Is he still in the country? email me. take care!Recommend

  • Aug 9, 2010 - 10:34PM

    Dear Salman,

    Thanks for the concern, It was indeed a horrible incident of our life as we had only heard such news on media. Apparently you have covered all aspects but few things I would like to add here like in which areas such cases happen and what-type-of-gangs are active in kidnappings these days, although we still have people who who could find exact details of location where the victim is kept but they can’t help us out because of “various reasons”.

    Have sent you in an email, you may contact me.

    Best Regards,
    TanzeelRecommend

  • S. Ali Raza
    Aug 10, 2010 - 2:54AM

    Timely report! So we should expect another 30-40 kidnappings during Ramazan, then. This is scary.Recommend

  • Sher Zaman
    Aug 10, 2010 - 12:56PM

    It is strange that the kidnappings increase in the month of Ramadan, just because the kidnappers want to celebrate Eid? Well if the authorities are so well aware then this should be controlled before it happens.Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Aug 10, 2010 - 10:24PM

    Ahmed Chinoy + Sharfuddin Memon (who is appointed yesterday as Consultant for Home Department and served CPLC) are two experienced people.

    They should work hand to hand as if they are not two persons but 1+1=11.

    If both of them will put their efforts together, they can foil such attempt(s).Recommend

  • Sahar
    Aug 11, 2010 - 12:07AM

    Great report! Very well researched. Lots of new info and really puts news stories in to perspectiveRecommend

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