Only a day after ‘strongman’ Pir Farid Jan Sarhandi took charge as the Hyderabad SSP, the city witnessed a string of robberies with bandits making way with over Rs5 million.
Notorious for his strong-arm tactics, Sarhandi had been posted as the police chief of the division on Thursday. He, however, appeared nonchalant, as he confidently assured the press that the suspects could not escape. “We enjoy handling these criminals,” he said informally while talking to reporters.
Earlier, at least half a dozen robbers struck at a branch of Soneri Bank in Latifabad Unit 7 on Friday and walked away with Rs3.3 million. According to the bank staff, the bandits also took away the video recording of the closed-circuit television cameras.
One of the bank staff members told The Express Tribune that six or seven armed men entered the bank at around 3:30 pm. They snatched the guns of the two guards sitting at the entrance and took everyone hostage. They looted money from the cashier and went away. The robbers, however, could not open the bank’s strong room. SP Headquarters Amjad Shaikh told The Express Tribune that the suspects escaped in a Toyota Corolla, the registration number of which was noted by some witnesses. “We have run a wireless message to seize two red and black cars.”
It was about 4:30 pm, however, when the message first began to circulate – almost an hour after the armed break-in.
In another robbery, three bandits looted cash and mobile phones from a Mobilink franchise on the Fatima Jinnah Road. The owner put the loss at over Rs600,000.
In an unrelated incident, robbers took away Rs650,000 from a trader, Riaz Ahmed, in the SITE industrial area. At least five shops were looted in the Qasimabad area alone.
Interestingly, all these robberies occurred between 2:30 pm and 6:00 pm on Friday.
Sarhandi is heading the district police for the second time. He spent about nine months in the district from March to November 2011 before his transfer to Karachi. His stint was marked with “encounters” and a gradual decrease in street crimes; although, he faced accusations of land grabbing. In a veiled accusation against his predecessor, Sarhandi said that the police officers who were posted on sifarish [reference to get a job] could not maintain law and order. “The [amount of] crime has peaked in Hyderabad during the past three to four months,” he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.