By: Majid Siddiqui
Web Desk (December 19, 2017): Street crimes like snatching of mobiles phones, cars, gold ornaments etc are the regular feature in city like Karachi but the local police is unable to control it, perhaps it lacks the will. The Police either show lazy attitude to curb the menace or involved in some cases to mint money with criminals. The menace of street crime continues to plague the metropolis even after years of an ongoing operation to curb crime in the city was launched.
Karachi has always managed to top the rankings of street crime in Pakistan. After being controlled for a few years, street crime is making a comeback for every citizen of Karachi.
Most Karachities have either been held up at gunpoint themselves, or have friends or family members who have gone through this terrifying ordeal. In fact, muggers do not have the slightest compunction in pulling the trigger at even a hint of resistance. Many valuable lives have been lost for not handing over a mobile phone or wallet. Even childern are being used for this purpose. Recent data compiled by the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee has revealed that despite a drop in other violent crimes, the epidemic of street crime continues unabated in the metropolis. The seriousness of the situation can be gauged by the fact that during last week’s meeting of Sindh’s Apex Committee, the provincial chief minister ordered the administration to carry out a “vigorous operation” against street crime.According to the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) stats, issued in November, 15, 2017 pertaining to street crimes in the metropolis during the last 10 months, with the estimated worth of snatched valuables representing an alternative economy.
A total of 173 cars were snatched in the city from January 1 to October 31, the CPLC stated. If the price of each vehicle is placed at Rs700,000 according to a careful estimate, then the overall price of all the snatched vehicles exceeds Rs121 million.Similarly, 1,053 four-wheelers were stolen during these months, and if the average price of each vehicle is placed at Rs250,000, then it comes over Rs263 million.
In regards to two-wheelers, 1,164 citizens were deprived of their motorbikes at gunpoint, which amount to over Rs44 million, if each bike is assumed to be worth Rs25,000.
The CPLC puts the number of motorbikes stolen from different areas of the city at 20,428. The overall worth of these stolen bikes exceeds Rs408 million if each is worth Rs20,000.
The data also shows that 10,911 mobile phones were snatched in Karachi from Jan to Oct, which amounts to Rs110 million if the price of a single snatched phone is assumed to be Rs10,000.Similarly, 14,629 cellular phones were stolen in the megapolis, which, at average worth comes to over Rs146 million.
Overall, the citizens of Karachi were deprived of valuables worth over Rs1.1 billion during the past 10 months.
These are estimates representing an alternate economy in the city based on street crimes.
The physical and mental torture citizens suffered from remains beyond measure but local police is unable to takle the issue, even Police is also involved in some cases. Couple of months ago, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Sial suspended seven station house officers (SHOs) of the provincial police in Karachi over their alleged failure to control street crime and misbehaviour with complainants.SHOs of Preedy, Sacchal, Liaquatabad, Mominabad, Saudabad, Risala and Jamshed Quarters police stations were among those suspended.
Last month, the apex committee in a meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took notice of street crimes in Karachi, and decided to launch a crackdown and targeted operation by Police and Rangers against street criminals.Street crime remained the most discussed item in the apex committee and was discussed threadbare. CM Sindh expressed displeasure that heinous crimes have been controlled, but street crime poses a big challenge and there must be concrete strategy to control it.
It was pointed out the illegal migrants, who number around 2.5 million in the province and mostly live in Karachi, are involved in street crime. Therefore, it was proposed to make street crime as part of the apex committee’s domain.
The chief minister approved the proposal and directed police and Rangers to start crack down and targeted operation against street criminals.He also constituted a committee under Law Minister with AG Sindh and Home Secretary to call on Chief Justice Sindh High Court to dedicate certain courts for speedy trial of street criminals, however the local police has not been able to reflect, whatever was said by the head of the province in the meeting.
The effort of compiling data is commendable as it gives law enforcers some sort of baseline to work with, though it can be argued that the figures cited here may only be the tip of the iceberg; due to the mostly lethargic response of the police, many victims of street crime are reluctant to report their mobile phones, wallets or vehicles as snatched or stolen.Now that areas particularly prone to street crime have been identified, the police have no excuse to not crack down on this menace.
Constant patrolling in the areas, as well as the deployment of undercover personnel and plainclothesmen, can help catch criminals in the act, and make these neighbourhoods safer for citizens. Reduction in the incidence of targeted killings, kidnappings, extortion and other violent crimes have indeed allowed the people of Karachi to breathe easier; however, citizens will only be able to sleep easy once street crime is controlled.
As other social crimes have slightly decreased, the police should be attentive and active towards this issue. They should instantly start operations against street criminals and fulfil their duties to make Karachi prosperous again.