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A scourge lifted from the katcha belt

Notorious murderer Sulto Shar was finally killed in a police encounter earlier this week

By Sarfaraz Memon |
PUBLISHED September 25, 2022

Notorious and hardened criminal Sultan Ali Shar aka Sulto Shar aka Sakhi operated across the katcha areas of Sindh (riverine areas) and South Punjab for over two decades. During that course, Sulto frequently played hide and seek with the police who, after growing frustrated with the hunt, eventually put a Rs 10 million head money on him.

Earlier this week, Sulto, along with one of his accomplices Esso Shar, was finally killed in an encounter with the Ghotki police earlier in the katcha area of Raunti district Ghotki.

Sulto originally hailed from the katcha of Raunti district, Ghotki where he lived with his wife and three children. Around 25 years ago, Sakhi had a fight with some people over the occupation of the katcha land and as a result, ended up killing three men. These three murders proved to be a turning point in his life. Sulto, from here, became a hardened criminal. He operated in the katcha areas of Ranjanpur in South Punjab and Ghotki and Kashmore in Sindh without any fear and was wanted by the Sindh and Punjab police in more than 200 cases of heinous crimes including, murder, kidnapping for ransom and others.

Sulto killed ten policemen including three SHOs in Sindh. He was also said to be a mastermind at luring people in and kidnapping them for ransom. As his notoriety grew, so did his power and the terror that it invoked in people across Sindh and Punjab katcha areas where he came to be known as the ‘king of the river’.

During this period, Sindh and Punjab police carried out many joint operations against the criminals in the katcha areas, but Sulto always escaped at the eleventh hour. In 2016, Pakistan Army started operation in the katcha areas of Sindh and Punjab during which one of the most notorious bandits of South Punjab Ghulam Rasool aka Choto Bakhrani along with his 50 companions surrendered to the army.

Before surrendering to the army, Choto contacted Sulto Shar and asked him to surrender, but he didn’t give in and instead, went into hiding. Sulto was a hardened criminal and used to post videos of his kidnap victims on social media to spread fear. Just recently, before the encounter, in which he was finally killed, he shared a video online where he sexually harassed his abducted victim.

Apart from this, he also kidnapped around 12 passengers of a wagon from near Rahim Yar Khan Punjab and demanded ransom, but later released them due to police pressure. Some sources in the area claimed that before his surrender to the Army, Choto and Sulto used to sow bumper crop of wheat in the katcha area and thus earned millions of rupees through its sale. And after the surrender of Choto, Sulto alone used to sow the wheat through his tribesmen to earn money.

When the Express Tribune tried to contact the SSP Ghotki Tanveer Hussain Tunio, he was not available to share his side of the story. However, the DIG Police Sukkur Jawed Sonharo Jiskani upon contact said that the encounter took place in which, Sulto Shar and his companion Esso Shar were killed, also included his other accomplices, who managed to escape. The incident took place near T Bund in the katcha of Raunti, in which only six police officials including the SSP Ghotki took part and the encounter lasted about two hours.

This targeted operation was carried out in secret and therefore only a police officials were part of it. However, after killing Sulto and his accomplice, the police tried to take their bodies in custody, but faced great resistance by the Shar tribe, who were not allowing the police to take away the bodies.

At this point, SSP Tunio contacted DIG Jiskani, asking for his help. Jiskani, along with a heavy contingent of the police rushed to scene, after which the tribesmen fled and the police took both the bodies into custody.

The police chose to carry out the high-profile operation with only a small number of officials in order to ensure that Sulto wouldn’t find out about it. A bigger operation would have also been counterproductive as it would have just served to create panic in the area and could have resulted in the culprits fleeing the area before it was carried out. Not only this, but a high number of heavy machinery can also destroy standing crops in the area.

One of Sulto Shar tactics to lure and kidnap people was to use a feminine voice on the phone. This tactic was first used by the Kosh tribesmen back in 2009 and then soon, others adopted the method too.

Due to his old age, Sulto was no longer that active in the crime world, but was serving as an institution for producing criminals. Apart from this, Sulto also used to decide kidnapping cases for ransom on commission basis.

IG Police Sindh Ghulam Nabi Memon has also announced a Rs 5 million reward for the police party, among other incentives. After the killing of Sulto Shar, another hardened criminal Rano Shar is issuing threats to the police of dire consequences.

Refuting the claims being shared on the social media regarding Sulto’s surrender to the police, DIG Jiskani said, “When and at which police station had he surrendered? If he had surrendered then he should have been produced in the court of law. Can anyone say in which court he was produced and if so, why did these cases still exist against him? These are simple rumors spread on social media, otherwise people of the area know very well that Sulto never surrendered to the police or any other law enforcement agency.”

“We are committed to eliminate crimes and criminals from the society so as to provide a peaceful living atmosphere to the people either living in the katcha