Punjab in grip of increasing crimes
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]rime rate has always been high in Punjab since the last many years but off late there has been an alarming rise in crime scene in Punjab under the current rulers. Off late there was the issue of child kidnapping and it was reported that as many as 1,808 children were kidnapped between 2015 and 2016 in Punjab. Earlier, the honour killing statistics showed that Punjab is leading all the four provinces in the crime scene. Honour killings were the highest in Punjab compared to the other provinces, coming to around 340 reported cases in the current year so far. The situation of violence against women is also unchanged in the largest province of the country-Punjab, where at least 5827 incidents were reported in which 6234 women became victim of violence. Acid throwing incidents were also remained high as 55 women become victims in 47 incidents while 35 were burnt in other ways. The torture of youth by powerful mafia is also no secret. In a nutshell, the men, women and children all are alike victims of the violence and crimes in the province. And the now the latest dimension added to the crime scene is the street crimes galore. The crime rate in the provincial capital of Punjab has increased manifolds, depriving citizens of their precious belongings. Police have failed to control street crime as dacoits, robbers and other criminals have taken over control of the city while beating or even killing those who try to resist their moves. Despite establishing more police squads to protect the lives and properties of innocent citizens, street crimes as well as heinous crimes are increasing in the city, especially during the last two months. Reports said that there were more than 1,000 incidents of snatching, mainly targeting handbags, mobile phones, cash and jewellery, which took place in different parts of the city. Dacoits, thieves and gangsters have bypassed all security measures in making the lives of citizens a living hell, and the spell of street crimes is a continued obstacle in their daily lives. Numerous wings of police and law enforcement agencies including the Dolphin Squad, the Muhafiz police, Mujahid Police Force, Quick Response Force, Tiger Squad, Police Response Unit, and some others have remained no good for protecting any of the victims. This alarming increase in the crime rate defies the Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif’s claims, who had said that the police were playing an important part in maintaining law and order situation in the city. The performance of police has come under severe criticism. Some incidents of negligence, corruption, and misuse of equipment provided to the squad have also been reported in recent times. Over the years, Police Department has put the entire blame of such incidents on low-budgets, understaffing, and lack of training on the modern lines. But despite an increase in the budget as well as the introduction of a modern force in the form of Dolphin Squad, the results have not changed much. There is a need to overhaul the department with focused divisions on law enforcement. The provincial government is equally to be blamed for its policies on the department and its sluggish approach towards police reforms. While the situation should be tackled on an emergency basis in the short-term, the solution only lies in the long-term reforms, increasing efficiency, capacity building through training on modern lines, as well as, the know-how of the use of modern techniques. Merely creating more and more wings with varying capabilities and budgets will not tackle the situation. Moreover, experts have attributed to the rise in crime to different social issues, mainly the increasing rate of unemployment. It’s about time that the government focused on these chronic issues and set its priorities right. The next general elections are approaching in approximately one year, and ignorance towards these issues could be dangerous for the ruling party. Meanwhile, as par newspapers reports, in a secret report, an intelligence agency of the military has also warned the Punjab government of the resurgence of organized criminal gangs in the Rojhan area of Rajanpur district. The report said that new criminal gangs, allegedly with the connivance of local police, are establishing their foothold in that area and gathering light and heavy weapons to become unchallengeable like Ghulam Rasool Mazari alias Chotu. According to counter-terror operatives of key intelligence agencies, sleeper cells of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi that manage to evade the radar of the security agencies and keep on moving still have their support pockets in central, southern and northern Punjab. Jhangvi-gang has its strong roots in Bahawalpur district, besides its footprints in Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah and Rahim Yar Khan. The footprints of sleeper units of al-Qaeda and TTP splinters like Jamaat-ul-Ahrar have been found in Faisalabad, Okara and Lahore districts in central Punjab. Their trails have also been found in northern Punjab areas of Mianwali, Attock, Sargodha and Chakwal. While it is acknowledged as an abominable crime that targets the citizens in Punjab and needs to be eradicated, there seems to be no improvement in the situation. Instead of a decrease, there has been a constant increase in the amount of cases on and off the record in Punjab belying the claims of the Punjab Government who claims to be working for the betterment of the society.