Karachi: Alarm over surge in kidnap cases
KARACHI: An unprecedented increase in kidnapping for ransom cases has been registered in recent weeks, setting alarm bells ringing in the city’s security administration that suspects groups from ‘outside Karachi’ are operating in the metropolis.
Figures gathered from the Citizens–Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and police sources show that while the monthly average recorded this year stayed slightly more than eight, over half a dozen kidnappings were reported in the last week of May alone.
Police investigators claimed that many cases were solved and the victims safely recovered with the assistance of the CPLC. The police investigators also said they had traced links to most cases recently reported and hoped to solve them shortly.
But it is widely believed that a number of incidents go unreported. “Forty four kidnapping for ransom cases were reported from January to May,” said an official.
“Although the average crime rate is much lower than the one recorded last year, the last week of May witnessed seven kidnappings. The trend is alarming indicating that the groups involved in the heinous crime are resurfacing.”
However, he added, almost all the cases, which had been reported before the recent surge, were solved and some half a dozen gangs were busted this year and their operators put behind bars.
“Still there are some cases being investigated. We are very close to solving a few of them and will soon come up with good news,” added the official. Last year witnessed 112 kidnappings — the highest number of ransom cases since 1990.
Amid the rise in kidnappings for ransom last year, the authorities claimed to have busted some 22 gangs involved in the crime. But, according to some officials, the real challenge was with the handling of their offshoots, which mainly operated from outside the city.
“During last year raids, we tracked down and busted 22 gangs involved in kidnappings for ransom by arresting their 80 members,” said CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy.
“We have reason to believe that the gangs, which have roots within the city, are no more active as most of their members are behind bars. The activity we witness now in Karachi is being carried out by those hailing from other cities.”
He cited groups in the interior of Sindh and Balochistan that had links in the city. He claimed that despite resource constraints the CPLC with the help of police investigators had achieved success in several cases.
In the second week of May, the CPLC and the anti-violent crime cell (AVCC) of police in a joint raid on a hideout in Pipri recovered a local industrialist, who had been kidnapped some days ago, after a shootout that left his two suspected captors dead.
The recent trend showed that kidnappers had again targeted industrialists, businessmen and well-to-do individuals, officials said.
The fresh kidnappings forced the authorities to take some additional measures. The officials admitted that the trend was reflective of the criminal groups still enjoying their roots within the city. “We had almost eliminated the gangs operating in this area of crime,” said Capital City Police Officer Saud Mirza after the kidnapping of three senior bankers last week.
“The fresh incidents, however, reflect the fact that they have become activate again. The DIG for investigations has been assigned the task of probing into these particular incidents and expediting the process for safe recovery of the victims.”