LAHORE: Long-time settlers in South Punjab are facing intimidation at the hands of a tribe in the Rajanpur area, pushing them to consider relocating from what has become a hotbed of crime.
“It’s hard for me to stay here anymore or to continue my education as my elder brother was kidnapped two months ago,” 20-year-old Dianat Ali told The Express Tribune.
Ali explained that his elder brother Sadaqat was kidnapped by men who allegedly have the support of the Gurchani tribe heads Sardar Pervez Khan Gurchani and his son, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Khan Gurchani.
“We have only one house in the precincts of the Darkhast Jamal Khan Jampur police station, where my abducted brother would run his shop to pay my education bills,” he said, adding that since Sadaqat’s abduction on February 10, he has discontinued his schooling.
He also said the kidnappers made threatening telephone calls demanding a ransom of Rs10 million as well as their eviction from area.
Station House Officer Jamal Khan Ilm Deen confirmed that gangsters from the Gurchani tribe are involved in kidnapping for ransom, but said the police are helpless.
PML-N MNA Sardar Jaffar Khan Leghari, upon hearing Ali’s grievances, urged Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif to take immediate action against the thugs supported by Gurchani sardars through a detailed letter.
Leghari demanded that Shahbaz provide his helicopter to the elite force and Punjab police’s anti-terrorism squad to carry out an operation against criminals in the Gurchani tribe. However, he said the CM has not yet taken notice of the letter sent over a month ago.
The letter available with The Express Tribune alleges that Gurchani sardars Pervez Khan and his son Sher are calling the shots in the Rajanpur tribal area.
According to the letter, reports of abduction, trafficking of women, theft of motorcycles and livestock are abundant in the region, which locals say is fast becoming a breeding ground for crime.
Around 16 cases have already been registered against certain Gurchani sardars and their accomplices Ali Gul Bazgir and Murida Nokani.
Deputy Secretary National Assembly Moezzam Kalro and EDO Health Dr Mushtaq were picked up by dacoits supported by these thugs and later released after the payment of hefty amounts in ransom, alleges the letter.
“In 1970, what was the value of Gurchanis’ property? Not even a million rupees. They did not even own a motorcycle. Today they are worth millions,” said Leghari.
He described the details of a charge sheet against the Gurchanis which states that the tribe harassed Chinese firm BJP which is operating in the area for oil and gas research.
DSP Special branch of Rajanpur, Javed Jatoi reported 17 cases against these Gurchani sardars to his superiors, but was immediately transferred from the vicinity.
Gurchani Sardar Pervez Khan rubbished the accusations and said that the chief minister should instead take action against the Leghari sardars.
He said that Leghari earlier wrote a letter to the Corp Commander of Bahawalpur against him but failed to prove charges against him.
He added that while he and Leghari were allies in previous elections, today they are in the same party with different views.
“Leghari’s favourite hobby is to write letters instead of talking face-to-face,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2014.