The role of errant police personnel in facilitating kidnaping for ransom incidents dominated the proceedings in the Sindh Assembly on Friday after an opposition lawmaker drew the house’s attention towards it.
MPA Nand Kumar Goklani of the Grand Democratic Alliance, moving a call attention notice on the law and order situation, said that around 159 people were kidnapped during 2020 and most of them were released after ransom was paid. “Instead of taking action against the kidnappers, they [the police] played the role of facilitators and paid the ransom to dacoits,” he said, citing eye witness accounts by victims’ families. “Where is the writ of law that you always claim,” he asked of the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government, adding that most of the ruling party’s blue eyed boys, posted as police officers, have contacts with kidnappers.
“There is not a single case wherein police have recovered the abductees. All are released by paying a ransom that is mediated and managed by police,” he lamented. Quoting a provincial government report, he said that street crime in Karachi, the capital of the province has increased once again. “Around 9000 mobile phones, 1026 bikes and 763 four-wheel were stolen in Karachi in the past six months. [Yet] you say that situation is under control,” he said, adding that some 1,209 people lost their lives in feuds or disputes in the province. “Even today, five people were killed in Larkana district on a petty issue. Where is government? Why has it failed to contain the situation,” he asked.
In his emotional speech, Goklani also raised the issue of women being killed on the pretext of honour or ‘Karo Kari’. Defending the government, PPP lawmaker and provincial minister, Mukesh Kumar Chawla stated that the assertions by the GDA MPA were unfounded. He refuted Goklani’s claims that the police are involved in kidnapping for ransom incidents. The minister conceded that there was a street crime menace in the metropolis, but added that following the chief minister’s notice the situation has improved. Chawla asked the opposition lawmakers to refrain from leveling allegations in the house. Earlier, Mohammad Qasim of Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in his call attention notice questioned why the shrines of saints had been closed while the ruling party the province, Pakistan Peoples Party under the banner of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was organising public rallies. “Why are the shrines being singled out to enforce Covid SOPs?
Why is there no ban on gatherings at the mausoleum of PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his family members in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, which is open to public. “Only the shrines of Sufis and saints including Abdullah Shah Ghanzi spread virus. Please stop this double standard and open the shrines without any delay,” he shouted in the house. Though the minister for Aufaq department was not present in the house, but parliamentary secretary of the department, Heer Ismail Sohu said that the decision to close the shrines was made by National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), not Sindh government. “We have obeyed the orders of NCOC and shrines are closed in all Pakistan,” Sohu said. Briefing the house on the issue, she said that the decision to close the shrines might be reconsidered by January 31 given the COVID situation in country.
The assembly also approved the adjournment motion regarding federal government’s intention to alter the 18 Amendment. The motion was moved by PPP MPA Nida Khuhro amidst the PTI MPAs protest on the issue. The minister for parliamentary affairs, Mukesh Kumar Chawla agreed to initiate debate on the issue and said, “This is an important adjournment motion. Let’s discuss to fix any date for the discussion on it.” The date would be fixed the consultation of speaker and secretary of Sindh Assembly would not present in the house.
Amid the heated debate over crime in the province, the house also passed a law enabling penalisation of manufacturing, selling, possessing, preparing, purchasing or delivering drugs, including ice, heroin, cannabis and the like, with life imprisonment or death. The law that will enable a stricter sentence for such crimes was introduced through an amendment in the Control of Narcotics Substance (Amendment) Act 1997.
Briefing on the bill, Chawla, who is the excise and taxation and narcotics control minister, stated that in the existing law the usage of “neurotoxic synthetic drugs having chemical formula C10, H15 N and ICE, Meth and crystal is not defined, hence no punishment is awarded in this case in trial court. So, we are making the amendment with vigorous punishment.”
According to the new law, the punishment would be awarded as per the quantity of the drugs found in the possession of any person. “The rigorousness of punishment may vary with respect to quantity, therefore it is expedient to make the amendment in existing law,” reads the statement of the objectives of the bill.
Moreover, the law has defined different categories of punishments, which range from a three-year-sentence to life imprisonment and death. “There will be three years’ imprisonment and a fine upto to one lac rupees if quantity of psychotropic substance or narcotic drug category is 100 grams or less. If quantity exceeds 10kg then life imprisonment and death sentence may be awarded,” the clause for punishment said.
The house also unanimously passed a law to award succession certificates to heirs of the deceased. The bill, ‘The letters of administration and succession certificates 2021’ was moved by Chawla.
Calling it an extra ordinary bill, the minister said that earlier, the family of deceased would go to the court for succession certificates, now the powers have been given to NADRA. “People would suffer for years to get the succession certificates. Now, after legal formalities, NADRA will issue the certificates within 15 days,” he said.
Soon after the legislation was done, the speaker adjourned the session till Monday.
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