RAHIM YAR KHAN:
Over 300 bandits and proclaimed offenders belonging to gangs from all over the province were allegedly provided safe passage by the police to escape the district.
Locals in Rahim Yar Khan have accused the police of conducting a sham operation against the criminals in the area.
“They have made tall claims about wiping out crime from all Katcha areas after a lengthy operation. In truth they cut a deal with most of the gang members,”
Two months ago police officials from Rajanpur and Rahim Yar Khan vowed to conduct a massive operation against proclaimed offenders and kidnappers in the Katcha areas of the district.The police also released a detail list of over 500 people charged with theft, kidnapping, murder and rape. At least 300 people on the list were regarded as proclaimed offenders and police had announced head money for the accused. Following recent claims by the police of having completed the operation, locals said that not a single person mentioned in the list of criminals had been caught.
“They haven’t announced the name of a single wanted criminal being apprehended and nearly all of the accused have escaped,” said a Rajanpur resident Hashim. Hashim said that police officials camped outside the Katcha area for two months but did not venture in. “They caught some thieves in the outskirts of the Katcha area but they didn’t target any of the proclaimed offenders,” he said. Over 300 bandits belonging to five gangs are thought to have left the Katcha area, after gang leaders in Katcha Karachi allegedly negotiated a deal with the police.
“These men were provided safe passage and they left for the Balochistan border at night,” said Yasir, a relative of one of the proclaimed offenders. Yasir said that a police contingent had parked itself outside the Katcha Habib area for two months but didn’t bother venturing in. “The police wouldn’t have dared trying to come into the village. My cousins, proclaimed offenders Yahya and Saifu alias ‘Jagga’ and ‘Jaani’, used to send me to ask the police officials if they wanted us to send them food every evening,” he said.
Around 2,000 police officials were deployed for the Katcha areas operation and the Rahim Yar Khan and Rajanpur police were collaborating on the issue. Residents of the area said that a bandit named Baba Long Lathani and Mazari landlords recently signed an agreement with the police.
Following the ‘agreement’ over 300 bandits fled to Sui and Dera Bugti. “The police didn’t dare venture into the Kacha Karachi area for two months and then suddenly when they went in two days ago there were no criminals to be found,” said Lathani’s neighbour Qasim. Qasim told reporters that all the proclaimed officials from Katcha Karachi left within three nights and fled to Balochistan. “There are others who shifted to Katcha Habib along with their livestock and families. They shifted days before the police set fire to their houses. They were warned,” he said.
Rahim Yar Khan DCO Sohail Habib Tajik refuted all claims of any deal between the police and the criminals. “We trapped them all in the village for months and caught many criminals. “When we finally entered the village we discovered that we had been misinformed and many of the men we were looking for weren’t here,” he said. Rajanpur DPO Sohail Zaffar Chattha said that the rumours about police offering the criminals safe passage were completely false. “We have ensured that they have no where to return to and now we will catch them,” he said.
* Names of informants have been changed to protect their identity.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2011.
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