Since 2013, daily killings have dropped by 84pc in Karachi: HRCP
Although many efforts have been made to improve the law and order situation, including the launch of various police and military operations in the past, street crime and kidnappings for ransom in Sindh’s urban areas were rampant last year.
This was observed in the ‘State of Human Rights in 2019’ report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Released on Thursday, the report also observed that killings in the name of honour, violence against women and mob attacks on houses of minorities over blasphemy accusations were reported in the province’s rural areas.
HRCP Sindh Vice-Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt told The News that the main objective of releasing an annual report is to show human rights abuse and trends in crime that have emerged in a year. “It helps researchers, media, policy-makers and law enforcement agencies in their respective fields.”
He said that although target killings have decreased to a great extent, street crime still poses a great challenge for the officials. He also said women’s killings for honour are now not limited to rural Sindh. “Such cases are now also occurring in the province’s urban centres, including Karachi.”
Citing the Sindh police’s report, the HRCP stated that 49,834 suspects were arrested in the province last year for their alleged involvement in different criminal activities.
Police and alleged criminals were involved in 1,114 encounters, with 1,534 suspects apprehended and 504 criminal gangs eliminated. Encounters resulted in the deaths of 48 alleged criminals.
The number of target killings was said to have reduced from 18 in 2018 to 12 in 2019. There were no bomb attacks in 2019 as compared to three in 2018 and 51 in 2013.
The number of murders over personal enmity was slightly higher in comparison with the previous year. But on average, murders per day in Karachi was 1.3 in 2019, which was 83.75 per cent less than the eight murders a day in 2013.
The HRCP expressed its concerns over the trend of kidnappings for ransom in affluent localities. Bisma Saleem was abducted in May 2019 and released a week later when a ransom was reportedly paid.
In November last year, Dua Mangi was kidnapped after her friend was shot. She was also released a week later when a ransom was reportedly paid. The police believe the same gang was involved in both incidents.
Suspects at large
Reports have emerged that a large number of suspects are at large across the province, with 22,000 of them in Karachi alone, and the failure to arrest them is believed to be behind the alarming rise in criminal activities, observed the HRCP. As a consequence, the Sindh police asked federal institutions to place the names of over 50,000 absconders on the exit control list and to block their computerised national identity cards.
The public sometimes takes the law into their own hands, with disastrous consequences. Rehan, 16, was lynched by a mob in Karachi’s Bahadurabad neighbourhood in August 2019 after being suspected of theft, while people recorded videos of the incident, provoking public outrage.
In another similar incident in Karachi, people lynched two suspects trying to rob a citizen in October last year. Awais Akhtar, 30, died and Mohammed Nauman, 20, was left critically injured. The third suspect managed to escape.
Murders for honour continue to be reported across Sindh. Official figures suggest that 78 people — 50 women and 28 men — were killed between January and June 2019 in different parts of the province after being declared Karo or Kari.
Some 65 cases had been registered but more than 90 per cent were pending trial for various reasons, and in most cases the police had not completed their investigations.
Most of the suspects were close relatives and three people had been acquitted. By the end of the year, police reports put the number of women killed in the name of honour at 108.
The problem of missing persons in Sindh persists, with reports suggesting that those who have disappeared are mostly human rights defenders or linked to nationalist political parties, mainstream political parties (including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan) and religious groups (mostly the Shia sect).
Citing the statistics shared by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED), the HRCP stated in its report that there had been 1,586 such cases across Sindh until December 2019.
Of these, 948 people had been traced, and 630 of them had returned home, 32 were confined at internment centres and 234 were in prisons, while the bodies of the remaining 52 had been found. Moreover, 371 cases had been closed for not being related to “enforced” disappearances among other reasons.
Newspaper: The News