Intelligence agency reports have revealed that Afghan-trained boys and returnees from Afghan prisons have surfaced in Punjab and are indulging in terrorist activities, The Express Tribune learnt on Monday.
According to a report by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Punjab, 2,487 militants trained in Afghanistan and 566 returnees from Afghan prisons have been identified.
The Punjab home department has directed the Inspector General of the Punjab police, as well as all senior police officials in the province, to immediately launch a crackdown against the Afghan-returned militants across the province.
The Punjab CTD has also placed the names of 2,120 suspected activists of sectarian or militant organisations on a watch list called the ‘fourth schedule’. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, placing terrorism suspects on this list gives police and law enforcement agencies considerable powers to observe such individuals and curtail their movements.
For instance, most of them are closely watched, and the people who meet them are also observed by the police. The people on the list cannot change their address and need police permission to leave the district. They are also frequently required to report to their local police station. If they violate any of these rules, they are liable to be arrested.
After conducting a survey and on the basis of field reports, the CTD further declared that 170 religious seminaries in Punjab were involved in suspected activities. The seminaries themselves were then bifurcated into two levels – category A and category B – depending on the level of threat that the police suspects emanates from them.
Category A, the more severe of the two, is a list that contains the names of 74 seminaries. Most of these seminaries are suspected of actively being involved in promoting extremist ideologies. Category B, the lesser of the two, has 96 seminaries on the list, and is generally considered a lower level of threat. A senior officer of the CTD said that the department’s achievements included the indexation of 42,800 militants /sectarian activists, arrest of 634 sectarian Proclaimed Offenders (POs) in collaboration with the local police, interrogation of 1,618 suspects/terrorists, and so on.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was formally created in 1995, and operates under the CID Manual, 1937. Starting as a small operational unit, it has now developed into a department with regional offices all over Punjab. The department was renamed as Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) on July 21, 2010.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2011.