Depicting a bleak law and order situation in Larkana and Sukkur divisions, Opposition Leader in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh has called for holistic measures to uproot the prevailing wave of violence.
The nexus between government, tribal chiefs and bandits needs to be broken for any security operation to be successful, he has urged.
In a 12-page report submitted to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday, Sheikh underlined the need for conducting a security operation coupled with neutralising influential and politically connected tribal chieftains and rehabilitation of those working for the gangs of bandits.
He pointed out that at least 250 people have been killed in the two divisions, which consist of nine districts, in the last three months while over 300 were injured in several incidents of violence. He added that 70 individuals were kidnapped and over a dozen of them are still in captivity of the dacoits. More than 400 instances of robbery, theft, killing, looting and abduction have been reported in the media while the actual unreported figure is likely to be far higher.
Murders, abductions on the rise
As per his collected statistics, 30 persons were murdered and 10 kidnapped in Khairpur, 15 murdered and 10 kidnapped in Sukkur, 20 murdered and five kidnapped in Ghotki, nine murdered and three kidnapped in Kambar-Shahdkot, and 20 were murdered in Larkana. “Ten persons of the Chachar caste family were killed in Kashmore-Kandhkot because they were suspected of betraying a dacoit gang. No action has been taken against the assailants so far.”
Two policemen and a civilian, who were moving in an armoured personnel carrier (APC), were killed during an operation against dacoits in Shikarpur district and two policemen were gunned down in Larkana in last few days.
He identified the vendettas among politically influential tribes as one of the leading factors behind the deteriorating law and order situation in Sukkur and Larkana divisions.
According to him, the dispute between the Mehar-Jatoi tribes has so far claimed 450 lives; Sawand-Sabzwai tribes over 100 lives and Augahi-Teghani tribes more than 100 lives, among several others.
Lax law enforcement
Sheikh said the lax enforcement of the law has given heart to the bandits who have starting sharing images and videos along with their advanced weaponry on the social media. The most recent of such videos was released by a gang of Teghani dacoits who captured the police APC in Shikarpur.
“What is even more alarming is sharing of the pictures of children with arms.” He lamented that the display of weapons has become a way of life for many tribes in those regions.
The opposition leader accused the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government of deeply politicising the institution of the police force. He contended that the police order 2019 transferred complete authority over the police to the provincial government after which political loyalties and not merit has become the basis of postings of the top officers.
“For example, the Sukkur SSP is chosen by Syed Khurshid Shah and Shikarpur’s SSP by Imtiaz Sheikh.” He alleged that such political intervention has helped the criminal gangs backed by influential tribal chiefs to get a foothold in their respective areas as the police turn a blind eye to their criminal activities.
He suggested that the police should conduct a strategically planned operation against these criminal gangs and instead of the district police the cops from the police commandoes and special services unit should be deployed. “The police units like SSU, RRF and the commandoes that are often used for security at the Bilawal House Karachi need to be sent in these areas.” For him, local police can be targets of revenge attacks.
He emphasised on the need for breaking the nexus among the political government, tribal chiefs and bandits for any security operation to become successful. “The third tier is the known leaders often involving the PPP MNAs and MPAs, whose names are already with the intelligence agencies. They are the ones who provide these gangs the leverage and the safe haven to operate freely.”
He also underscored that the depoliticisation of the police force and a rehabilitation programme by the ministry of human rights should synchronise with the operation. Sheikh reiterated that if the notorious gang of bandits, known as the Chotu gang, can be eliminated in Punjab, the same can be done in Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2021.