Habitual offenders evade surveillance

Failure of government to implement electronic monitoring of serial criminals has allowed street crime to sky-rocket

RAZZAk ABRO June 20, 2024


For a turbulent city like Karachi, embroiled in an enduring affiliation with ethnic violence and target killings, the recent spell of economic downslide in the country has only inflamed the fire and run culture, which in the absence of a stable monitoring system for habitual offenders, continues to terrorize locals in the port city.

Despite the Sindh Assembly passing the Sindh Habitual Offenders Bill in 2023 to monitor the activities and movements of habitual offenders electronically, incidents of casual and target killings have reached an alarming level. While soaring inflation and unemployment can partly explain the rising crime rate, the inability of law enforcement agencies especially the Karachi Police to devise and implement a sustainable solution for curtailing the horrendous killings instigated by thousands of habitual offenders in the city, has allowed bailed out offenders to search for their next target in no time.

The situation is a cause of concern in a city, where official data obtained by the Express Tribune shows that almost 75 citizens have lost their lives during fire and run incidents in Karachi reported during the past five months

“Laws like the Sindh Habitual Offenders Bill are a good attempt at curtailing crime but unfortunately, they are not implemented. The government and Sindh Police temporarily take some measures to eradicate street crime in Karachi but do not follow through. Since most of the police officers in the port city are engaged in protocol duties for police officers, bureaucrats and ministers, protecting the lives of citizens is seemingly very low on their priority list,” opined Javed Bilwani, a local industrialist and Vice Chairman of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Businessmen's Group.

On the other hand, sources from the Sindh Police assured that the paucity of funds was the only reason behind the delay in the implementation of the Habitual Offenders Bill. “Since the police have to buy electronic bracelets to monitor the movement of habitual criminals, due to a lack of funds, the purchase of the equipment has now been postponed till the next financial year,” said an official, on the condition of anonymity.

It should be noted that the provincial government had provided Sindh Police with a budget of more than Rs125 billion for the current financial year 2023-24, of which 60 per cent was allocated for Karachi alone however, Rs100 billion was spent on the salaries of Sindh Police, while the remaining Rs25 billion was spent on development work and other expenses, leaving behind no funds for the electronic monitoring endeavour.

“There are around 12,000 habitual offenders in Sindh. Initially, the Sindh Police had requested the Sindh government to arrange 4000 anklets or devices,” claimed Syed Saad Ali, spokesperson for the Sindh Police.

“Although most of the prisoners who come to the jails are habitual offenders, a significant number are bailed out after a short period of time. Correctional programs are only offered for convicted prisoners who are serving long sentences. These types of programs are run jointly by the Sindh government and non-governmental organizations,” said an officer from the Prisons Department.

The Express Tribune contacted IG Sindh Police, Ghulam Nabi Memon, to note Sindh Police’s stance on the matter but there was no response from him.


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