1,800 NICs stolen from NADRA office in Karachi

Published: January 24, 2019
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PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

KARACHI: Unidentified men sneaked into the National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) Landhi office and took with them 1,800 national identity cards (NICs) and entry registers much to the oblivion of the security guard on duty outside.

Police and Rangers’ officials were alerted to the theft at 8.30am on Wednesday and arrived at NADRA’s office in Landhi no. 3.5.

Evidence was gathered, investigation initiated and a case was registered. NADRA officials annulled all stolen NICs and created an inquiry committee to investigate the burglary.

Questionable security measures

NADRA’s staff arrived at the office on Wednesday morning to find things scattered on the delivery counter, cabinet doors left ajar, and a significant number of NICs missing.

How could this have happened when the guard on duty was posted outside and there were CCTV cameras installed in the office, one might wonder? Surely the office holding citizens’ identity cards must be well secured.

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Landhi SHO Manzoor Arain briefed The Express Tribune on the matter. They informed that there are two security guards employed at NADRA’s office, one for the night shift and another during the day. However, both these guards are positioned outside the office.

The policemen reported that the burglars had supposedly climbed up the roof from behind the building and entered by removing the slabs used in the office bathroom’s ceiling. Had they tried to walk in through the door, the guard on vigilance would surely have noticed.

The policemen further stated that the CCTV cameras installed in the office were out of order hence no recorded footage of the incident was available. Upon inspection, it was discovered that 1,800 NICs were missing from the cabinets along with record registers.

Investigation initiated

The police recorded the statements of the guard on duty and NADRA officials. Case no35/2019 was registered against unidentified men on behalf of NADRA Assistant Deputy Director Shehzad Yousuf under Sections 34, 380 and 457 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

The sections refer to acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention, theft, and trespass or house-breaking by night in order to commit offence, respectively.

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Speculating motive

According to a police source, the burglary is being investigated from various angles. One theory is that a candidate of the upcoming by-elections might have facilitated the burglary in order to weaken an opposing candidate’s election campaign.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQMP) candidate in the upcoming elections, Hashim Raza, while speaking to the media outside NADRA’s office dubbed the theft an attempt to make the by-election unsuccessful. He requested the election commission to allow people to cast votes through NIC card tokens.

Cutting losses

NADRA officials annulled all stolen NIC cards and created an investigation committee for the incident. The cancelled cards will be reprinted and issued to their holders a few days before the by-elections. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2019.

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