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SHC to be asked to designate exclusive sessions courts for street crime trials

The 24th apex committee meeting held at the Chief Minister House on Monday requested the Sindh High Court (SHC) to designate separate judges for hearing street crime cases.

Held under the chairmanship of CM Syed Murad Ali Shah, the meeting reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken in the previous meetings and issued necessary instructions for conducting security audit of important installations.

Madrasas

The meeting was told that 8,195 madrasas and Imambargahs are located on main roads, so it was decided that from now onwards no-objection certificates will not be issued to set up madrasas or Imambargahs on main roads.

The meeting was told that the draft of the Sindh Deeni Madaris Act 2016, submitted by the Auqaf department and vetted by the law department, has been submitted to the CM through a summary for approval.

The interior ministry has notified a working group under the chairmanship of education secretary, with representatives from relevant ministries and agencies, to deliberate on madrasa reforms, registration, government funding, mainstreaming, curricula and foreign funding.

The CM directed his law adviser to further proceed on the federal working group’s inputs to avoid dichotomy. Taking a policy decision, the meeting decided to register madrasas as educational institutions by the education department instead of the Auqaf department.

Safe City

The meeting was told that the Safe City project as decided by the apex committee has been partly completed, including facial recognition system, intelligent traffic management system, big data analysis system, e-patrolling, model police stations, smart policing and Sindh police automation decision support system.

The legal and financial decisions required to be implemented include Safe City Authority (whose bill has been passed by the assembly), a feasibility study to install 10,000 cameras at 2,000 sites and the arrangement of funds.

The CM said he will soon release funds from block allocation. Other components, including the installation of trackers in motorbikes, introduction of radio-frequency identification number plates as approved by the cabinet and the establishment of a ballistics lab for firearms registration, are under way.

The meeting was told that 2,500 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are functional and being monitored through the Command & Control Centre at the Central Police Office.

The meeting decided to install high-definition CCTV cameras at all entry and exit points so that movement of vehicles and people can be monitored. The overall financial estimate of the Safe City project is Rs24 billion.

Street crime

The meeting was told that legislation to try street crime cases separately is under consideration, for which guidance from the SHC is being sought. It was pointed out that street crime cases can be effectively tried under existing laws, and that trials by sessions courts are more effective than trials by magistrates.

The prosecutor general told the meeting that according to the apex committee’s decision, he has prepared guidelines and circulated them among investigating officers and police officers through the police chief for invoking more strict sections of the law. They include robberies committed with deadly weapons or inducement causing grievous hurt.

The offence ought to be charged under Section 392. Where there are separate cases for the same set of transactions, a joint charge under Section 265-E of the Criminal Procedure Code is to be framed rather than filing in two distinctive courts.

Up-to-date criminal record will be attached with every police report. The meeting was also told that every Saturday training sessions are held for IOs and Federal Investigation Agency officials on terror financing and money laundering. The meeting appreciated the implementation of the apex committee’s decision. They decided to request the high court to designate sessions courts exclusively for trying street crime cases.

Terrorism

The meeting was told that terrorism was at its peak in 2013, when 51 incidents had taken place, but since then such activities were being contained until 2020 saw six such incidents.

Heinous crimes

Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon said that 2,789 murders were reported in 2013, and the number was brought down to 491 by 2019. Target killings were recorded at 509 in 2013, but they were reduced to 12 by 2019.

Kidnappings for ransom came down from 78 in 2013 to 41 in 2019. Similarly, 533 extortion cases in 2013 came down to 128 in 2019.

A comparison of heinous crimes committed in 2019 to those committed in 2020 (until August) shows a reduction of 43 cases of murder, five of target killing, seven of ransom kidnappings and 12 of extortion.

Memon said that mobile phone snatching has increased by 1,101, four-wheeler snatching reduced by 34 and two-wheeler snatching increased by 336. Committee members urged the police to start an operation against shopkeepers buying spare parts of snatched vehicles and phones.

The police chief told the meeting that this year 2,685 criminals involved in robberies were arrested, 416 held red-handed, 19 killed in police encounters and 3,121 weapons of different kinds recovered.

This year 90 robbers were released, including 152 in the first week of their arrest, 114 within two weeks, 140 in 30 days, 163 in three months, 183 in six months and 156 over six months of their arrest.

Case study

Sharing a case study of lengthy criminal procedure, the police chief said that a suspect was arrested on April 16, 2017 in a robbery with murder case in the jurisdiction of the Mauripur police.

On September 20 that year the charges were framed, following which 95 case hearings were held and the complainant was called to record the statement nine times until the suspect was acquitted on July 14 this year. The meeting decided to strengthen the prosecution, and said that in case of bail of robbers, appeals will be filed.

Blacklisted criminals

The meeting was told that as decided by the apex committee in its last meeting, appeals have been filed in acquittal cases of blacklisted criminals and terrorists. Sindh’s police and Rangers chiefs and the PG conveyed compliance of the decision.

It was also pointed out that the acquittal of the accused in the Daniel Pearl case and the acquittal of one of the accused in the PIDC bomb blast have been challenged in the Supreme Court. The meeting was told that a list of 268 under-trial blacklisted criminals and terrorists has been shared with the PG for effective prosecution.

CPEC projects

The meeting was told that according to its earlier decision, the security of all the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects’ employees, particularly Chinese nationals, has been strengthened.

There are 12 CPEC projects in progress across the province on which 1,028 Chinese nationals are working. They have been provided with 4,372 police, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary and army officials for their security.

On 136 non-CPEC projects 1,052 Chinese nationals are working. They have also been provided with 268 police, Rangers, FC and army officials for their security. It was pointed out that the Mai Bakhtawar Airport in Islamkot is awaiting to be made operational by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in view of road travel vulnerability, commercial viability and travel cost.

The CM directed the chief secretary to sign an agreement with the CAA to make the airport operational.

Important set-ups

The meeting was told that there are some important points where security is required to be strengthened further. These points have been categorised according to their sensitivity. Out of the 344 points, 115 are in Karachi, 141 in Hyderabad and 88 in Sukkur.

Security of shrines

The Sindh police chief told the meeting that the security audit of all Dargahs and shrines has been done and shared with the relevant deputy commissioners. Necessary police force has been deployed according to their sensitivity. There are 560 shrines across the province and their security has also been categorised according to their sensitivity and requirement. After the reopening of shrines, 819 police officials and security guards have been deployed there.

Border policing

The police chief told the CM that Sindh shares four bordering areas with Balochistan and Punjab — namely Kashmore, Jacobabad, Shahdadkot and Ghotki — where 16 police stations and 60 checkpoints have been established with a force of 1,072 police officials. They have been mobilised with 22 vehicles and 11 motorbikes.

The meeting was informed that during patrolling along the borders, 357 criminals were arrested against whom 202 cases were filed. The police chief said that patrolling in the Kutcha area has also been intensified.

Uplift projects

The CM said that 100 development projects, including 14 of water supply & sanitation, 80 roads, two of health and mega schemes, were completed for Rs5.3 billion in 2018-19.

In the next financial year 91 projects, including 24 of water & sewerage, 63 roads, two of local governments and two mega projects, for Rs11 billion were completed. Similarly, 347 projects of water supply, buildings, roads, health, local government, solid waste and 21 mega projects are under way for Rs159.17 billion, against which Rs50.61 billion have been used.




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