Kashmore is where the number of proclaimed offenders in the highest in the whole of Sindh. The district is hit with militancy and infested with crime. Tribal rivalries also run rampant there. Data compiled by Sindh police in 2017 suggest that out of the 100,000 absconders in the whole province, more than 46,000 belong to the police’s Larkana range under which Kashmore district falls. However, a different kind of policing in Kashmore is now resulting in more and more suspected outlaws giving in to the police. The new approach has been introduced by SSP Kashmore Asad Raza under the programme ‘Surrender For Justice’. The programme promises legal support and financial assistance to those running from the law in case they surrender. Saying yes to the police’s initiative, about a thousand wanted individuals have surrendered over the last six months, and the number is rising with each passing day, if SSP Raza is to be believed. Those having laid down arms also included members of banned outfits – something being regarded as the most significant achievement of the programme – besides those involved in robberies, murders and other crimes.
While the move is result-oriented – and thus commendable – it does raise a valid question on why instead of taking criminals and anti-state elements head-on, the police are offering them assistance. SSP Raza, the police officer behind the programme, has an equally valid justification though. He says that in a district rife with rivalries, it’s common for feuding parties to implicate each other in presumably false cases. Since those booked never come to the police fearing for life and also because they are extremely poor and can’t afford to hire legal services, they do deserve support to fight the cases against them and get a chance to join the national mainstream. That 200 of those submitting to the judicial process have been acquitted by the courts speaks in favour of the unusual approach to tackle crimes.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2019.