Street Crimes

The incidence of snatches and thefts at gunpoint, of cars, motorcycles, cell phones, purses, cash and other personnel belongings in markets, bazaars, parks and roadsides, collectively referred to as STREET CRIMES, has been growing at a frenetic rate over the past few years. Everyday, on an average nearly 100 cases involving such crimes are reported, much larger and now growing numbers remained unreported owing to the increasing skepticism amongst the victims over police ability to ever recover their property. Very often, offering some form of resistance to the perpetrators ends up in some form of injury or death for the victim. As I was reading the newspaper on Saturday I came across an article.

“28th Oct 2006:In Korangi, a man was killed and his father was injured when they offered resistance to bandits late Friday night. Police said that bandits intercepted Abid, 24, and his father, Abdul Rasheed in Gulshan-i-Millat. Both father and son resisted when the bandits demanded cellphones at gunpoint. On their resistance, Abid was killed and Abul Rahseed was wounded. The bandits snatched the cellphones and escaped.”

Since resistance usually results in the death of the victim, it has certainly generated a general rule in the mind of the average man to hand over all his possessions when confronted with such a situation. Since a single episode usually just takes a minute or two, the perpetrators are able to commit several crimes and collect a handsome bounty. According to Dawn reports, “on 28th October 2006, around 50 people were deprived of their cars, motorcycles or cellphones in various localities of the city on Saturday(Oct 28th). Police sources said that eight vehicles and 42 mobiles phones were either snatched or stolen. Three motorbikes were snatched at gunpoint and an equal number were stolen. Two cars were stolen. Twenty-two people reported that they were held at gunpoint and robbed of their cellphones, cash and other personnel belongings. Twenty others reported that their mobile phones were stolen. Khokhrapar police claimed recovery of 20 cellphones and four TT pistols following the arrest of four suspects namely Zeeshan, Arbab, Akbar and Hadi alias Sher Khan. Many of the cases of snatching of cellphones at gunpoint and theft of other valuables is not even reported. Lack of trust in the police is the main and perhaps the only reason behind this. The victims generally believe that it is useless filing a report and informing the police since the people don’t have much confidence in the ability of police force to recover their property. And even if the proper is recovered, chances of it being returned to the owner are very slim. Perhaps the only exception are vehicles, these too, whenever recovered are usually stripped off the expensive parts and then returned.

Regarding this the Paktribune News’ reporter wrote, “The opposition leader in Sindh Assembly, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, has said that Karachi has appeared on the world map as worst victim of street crimes where citizens are deprived millions of rupees and valuables by criminals and about 500 street crimes were reported daily in the city. In a statement issued, the PPP leader said the military regime and its “puppets” in Sindh might disagree with his survey as most of the victims of street crimes avoid going to police stations due to lack of faith on police, while many of those that approached police stations were denied registration of their FIR. He accused the federal and provincial governments of dragged Karachi into what he called world’s worst victim of street crimes .

The police in Karachi are definitely not performing up to the mark and the public has lost confidence in them. Being a police man is more or less like being a criminal!! The main reasons behind this is that they are poorly-paid which forces them to take bribes. Bribery as said by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) shakes the foundations of the society and is a ladder towards other crimes. Furthermore, the police are not generally respected neither by the public nor the government. They are not trained properly. Their duty hours, rates of pay, office and housing conditions as well as benefits like health care are very poor by any standard. Policing is also affected by the manner in which local politicians, bureaucrats and other stakeholders frequently interfere in the working of the force.

I came across an article in The News newspaper saying:

“Earlier this month, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz approved a proposal to increase the police force in Karachi by recruiting 5,000 more men. He directed the relevant authorities to complete the process within a month so that the menace of street crimes could be checked in the metropolis. The Sindh police chief had earlier told the prime minister in a briefing on law and order in the province that there were only 5,000 policemen doing active duty in Karachi and that is one reason why street crimes had risen. What the police chief should also have pointed out was that a sizeable number of men, weapons and vehicles have been allocated for VIP duties with the result that this takes away what is at the disposal of the force for regular policing duties. Despite the fact that the provincial allocation for law and order has been increasing, the irony is that this is not reflected in the strength that is available for regular policing work.”

Its high time and the government should start focusing on quality rather than quantity. A small well paid and well trained work-force will prove to far more beneficial than a meaning-less large one. It will increase the efficiency of the workforce and decrease the street crime rate drastically. A good work-force will also alarm the criminals who at present are fearless of the police. Has anyone ever snatched your cellphone or any-other belonging? Has any of your family members or friends found themselves in such situations? How did you or your mates react? What do you think is the main reason for increasing crime rate in the city and what can we as individuals do to desist the perpetrators?

Fahad Punjwani FY

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