KARACHI: The ongoing targeted operation might have been able to reduce the crime rate on the streets of Karachi in 2014 but it seems to have quadrupled the number of people killed in alleged encounters with the city’s law enforcement agencies.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s (HRCP) annual report for 2014, around 592 people were killed in alleged encounters with the police and Rangers. In 2013, which the HRCP termed to be Karachi’s deadliest year with 3,251 deaths, around 184 were killed in encounters.
The breakdown shows that nearly 457 people were shot dead in alleged encounters with the police while roughly 135 were gunned down by the Rangers and two others died as a result of torture by law enforcers.
The report claims that around 2,914 people, including children, were killed in 2014 which is almost 300 less than the year before.
HRCP’s chairperson Zohra Yusuf claimed that deaths in these police encounters were a human rights violation. She said that anyone killed extra judicially, be it the Taliban, was illegal.
Yusuf said that in most of these encounters, the police were not harmed while they claimed that they had to open fire in response to the criminals firing at them. She added that the policemen who died last year were killed in grenade or targeted attacks, not encounters.
“The police do not trust the judicial system,” she said while talking to The Express Tribune. “They believe that courts will let the prisoner off and so they indulge in ‘police encounters’, however, this is no way to justify them.”
AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo, on the other hand, suggests that there has been an increase in police encounters as militants are being targeted in the operation.
“The police are proactive in this operation,” he said. “They are going to the hideouts of wanted criminals who open fire at them and it is because of this that there is a rise in encounters.”
In 2014, there was also an increase in sectarian attacks. The death toll went up to 120 as compared to 108 in 2013. The number of dead bodies found in 2014 was also slightly higher than the year before with 340.
March was the deadliest month of the year with 281 people dead in different incidents of violence. However, there was a decline in some criminal activities.
Overall killings of people with no political affiliation went down from 1,006 in 2013 to 661 in 2014. There was also a decrease in political killings with 268 political activists shot dead in 2013 to 134 in 2014.
Death in numbers
Around 130 policemen, 27 security guards and 12 Rangers were killed in 2014. Around 28 people died in bomb blasts or grenade attacks while 87 were killed in Lyari due to the gang war. More than 100 people were killed by robbers while 134 died due to enmities. According to the report, stray bullets claimed the lives of 35 people while 28 died on railway tracks.
Around 78 children were killed in 2014, including 20 who were hit by stray bullets and 18 due to family enmities. The report claimed that 15 children were killed in deadly attacks while 55 women were killed by relatives and 61 by unidentified persons.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2014.