A DSP and an ASI lost their lives on Thursday morning during a six-hour-long operation to arrest a gang of extortionists.
The operation was carried out against notorious criminal, Zamin Shah Chandio, who was apparently in hiding in the settlements of Hussain Hazara Goth and Madho Goth near Safari Park in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. The neighbourhood is predominantly occupied by people hailing from rural Sindh and Gilgit.
DIG Tahir Naveed, who was supervising the entire operation, criticised the policemen occupying lower ranks in the department. “Some black sheep of the police department were involved in giving permission to some criminals to run their illegal activities in the area,” he pointed out, adding that these policemen had allowed gambling dens, land grabbing and extortions to take place under their patronage. “These same elements were involved in the police encounter.”
Since the police failed to establish its writ in this area, it allowed the criminals to become stronger and challenge the police team that reached their hideouts on Thursday morning, the DIG explained.
According to the police, the gangster Zamin Chandio had refused to pay bribe to the Gulistan-e-Jauhar police station and allegedly beat up its police constable, Waseem. This incident took place early Thursday morning around 2am.
When the injured constable returned, the police team went to raid the gangsters’ hideout to teach him a lesson. However, the gangsters opened fire at the police team and, as a result, SHO Saleem Khokhar was injured. Sensing the situation may go out of control, police teams from the rest of district East were summoned.
In the resulting operation, DSP Qasim Ghauri and ASI Aslam were killed while another SHO Haider Zaidi of Bahadurabad police station and two constables were injured. They were shifted to a private hospital for treatment but their condition was critical. The police did, however, manage to kill Zamin Chandio, along with Ilahi Bux Chachar, Ardillo and Sunbul Ahmed. The rest of the suspects managed to escape, said DIG Naveed.
Meanwhile, SSP East Imran Shaukat confirmed that an inquiry is being conducted against those police officers who were involved in allowing criminals elements to flourish. This includes a police constable of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Waseem.
According to the residents, the suspected criminals used to be affiliated with Pakistan Muslim League – Functional but the party had dismissed their membership when started engaging in illegal activities.
PML-F’s Imtiaz Shaikh denied, however, that Zamin was affiliated with the party. If some criminals have affiliated themselves with Functional League, it is the responsibility of the police to find out the truth behind the police encounter, he said.
Later in the day, a leader of Jeay Sindh Tehreek – an offshoot of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz - Habib Jatoi admitted that the deceased were their party activists and the police gunned them down in a fake encounter.
When the police reached the area, the activists surrendered themselves, he claimed. “Basically, it was an extra-judicial killing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2013.