Lahore: 1,315 criminal gangs, dens logged in ‘Black Book’
LAHORE: As many as 1,315 criminal gangs and dens are operating in Punjab, with 13 of them being operated by mafia of other provinces, according to the ‘Black Book’ that holds details of criminals from across the province.
A Home Department official told Daily Times that of the 1,315, around 210 were gangs of criminals; 130 of kidnappers; 56 of illegal weapon dealers; 42 of land grabbers; 72 of hired killers; 299 gambling dens; 350 narcotics dens and 143 were brothels. He said that the book had been prepared by the Home Department in 2007, with the field support of the Special Branch.
Complete profile: An official at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat said that some ruling party cabinet members had been opposing the formation of task forces against land grabbers, saying that it would invite litigation that was not financially feasible in the current economic situation. He also claimed that the book contained names, profiles, locations, criminal record, and pictures of the members of the listed criminal gangs and dens.
“It also contains complete profiles of politicians, police officers, revenue officers, local landlords, lawyers and banned religious organisations and any accomplices that harbour those criminals,” he added. The official said that no action had been taken against the criminals and their supporters, because they included some prominent personalities.
According to the book, nine out of 35 districts have less than 10 gangs and Chakwal is gang-free. It also states that “land mafias” are operating in six big cities — Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Khanewal, Lahore and Layyah.
Time for action The official said that the Black Book would soon be presented to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for a decision on how to proceed. During his previous tenure (from February 20, 1997, to October 12, 1999), Shahbaz was known as a strict disciplinarian. He tried to eliminate the culture of bureaucratic hurdles in the uplift process, and focused on health, education, agriculture and industrial sectors. He also launched a successful operation against ‘ghost’ schools by involving the army. During his government, both national and global media greatly appreciated the development and progress of the province.