Crackdown against street criminals
There is an unprecedented rise in street crimes in the metropolis in recent months. Most citizens of Karachi 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. Reduction in the incidence of targeted killings, kidnappings, extortion and other violent crimes have indeed allowed the people of Karachi to breathe the easier; however, citizens will only be able to sleep easy once street crime is controlled. In this backdrop, it is welcome to note that Sindh Apex Committee has decided to continue crackdown against street criminals and to take necessary measures to ensure peace in Karachi sustainable by launching a crackdown against street criminals. The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. The meeting was also attended by Rangers Director General Major General Mohammad Saeed, Inspector General AD Khawaja among other high-level officials. During the meeting, the Shah remarked that: “street crimes must be controlled at all costs.” Weighing in on the topic, Rangers DG shared that street crime will only be controlled once the criminals are given severe sentences. The chief minister remarked that he has requested the chief justice for a separate court for street crimes. He also shared that he will speak to the federal government for an amendment in the Anti-Terrorism Act. Murad said that such cases should be classified. Meanwhile, the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) on Wednesday last issued stats 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. Meanwhile, observers say that much has been made – and rightly so – of the substantial fall in the incidence of terrorism in Karachi. In that sense it is safer than it has been for many years. But a reduction in terrorism in the city has not been accompanied by a reduction in street crime, indeed the reverse is true and for the ordinary citizen life in Karachi is in reality not much safer or easier than it was before the bombs and bullets faded to the background. There is a surge in street crime that is unprecedented and is closely linked to the increasing (relative) prosperity of the inhabitants and the ubiquity of the smart mobile phone. To conclude one may agree with the Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah who said that he wanted to make the city free of street crime – as does every right-minded person. One way to do this is to improve the quality of both policing and policemen and women. Having more police on the streets that are better trained and equipped is the way forward. Well trained and well equipped police are also one of the solutions. A safer city will follow. There should be a proper check on licensed guns and the ones being used illegally should be taken away. The police department should keep a regular check on the streets especially mentioned for having vast street crimes. Muggers should be arrested immediately and the weapons and motorbikes being used by them should be taken into custody by the police department. 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.