Robbery is an age-old crime, often fatal and ugly, with effects that go far beyond the main target. Two unfortunate women, mother and daughter, residents of Kashmir Road, Karachi might have never imagined the ugly fate awaiting them at the door of their house when they were intercepted by a robber aiming to snatch their jewelries and cash. In a panic, one of the women rang the door-bell to seek help and save themselves from being robbed. Out came a young man trying to find out what the whole commotion was about. Before he could realize the danger of the situation, the robber pulled the trigger of his pistol and bang, he hit the man with a bullet that, as fate had it, killed him. Within a few minutes, the robbery was over; the robber took to his heels, jumped onto his motorbike and zoom, vanished into the alley leaving behind wailing family members, stunned at the ghastly outcome of the situation with no clue on how to save the bullet-stricken young man.
This deadly robbery took place on the day of the victim’s Valima. The robber not only cut short a young man’s life, he ruined the lives of two families, belonging to the groom and his bride. How traumatic this incident must have been for the bride, whose happiness at a newly married life had so quickly turned into deep sorrow that will haunt her for a life time. A gloom of sadness and silence settled onto both families whose faces, a few minutes earlier, were glittering with happiness and joy. What the culprit was thinking when he committed his crime is unknown, but one can assume that fear of his apprehension might have been his only concern.
A week after this tragic incident, newspapers flashed a story about the culprit of this crime. He was a police officer, Farzand Ali Jafari, the same police officer who later, facing his arrest, had allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself. His supposed suicide gave the impression that he was repentant of his actions, but it wasn’t so. Reports later revealed that instead of providing security and safety as a policeman, he engaged in criminal activities and, in fact, was a threat to the security of the people himself. In the last four years, he was served 10 show-cause notices, seven of which were about continuous absences from his job. All these show-cause notices couldn’t change his criminal routines and no person from the intelligence department ever bothered to investigate his off-the-clock activities. Two years ago, he was suspended for stealing gold and cash from a house and demanding another Rs100,000 in extortion. From street crimes to robbery, and even drug peddling, he had his hands in all sorts of crimes and yet he had good luck, which allowed him to continue holding his job until he took his own life to evade arrest.
Why did the police department remain so oblivious to a police-officer’s criminal activities and what were the reasons for such negligence? If it was not out of any complicity in his crimes, perhaps for some financial gains?
A criminal-policeman is better dead than alive. All those crimes, committed by Jafari during the last four years, despite multiple show-cause notices, would have become a pandora’s box for him and his superiors had he remained alive and faced criminal proceedings. This might have also exposed those who had failed to keep an eye on the criminal activities of an insider. Had this criminal policeman been pulled off earlier from his job, Shahrukh, the young man, might still be alive now. Why did the police department remain so oblivious to a police-officer’s criminal activities and what were the reasons for such negligence? If it was not out of any complicity in his crimes, perhaps for some financial gains? For the family of Shahrukh, the death of this criminal policeman might bring satisfaction, but this is about more than Shahrukh’s death alone. There are many families in Karachi and around the country who are victims of such crimes, and in some cases the crime’s perpetrators are found to be police officials.
Data maintained on such cases reveals that there were 63 incidents of robbery-related casualties in Karachi during 2021, leaving 51 persons dead and 23 injured. This year, 17 cases of such robberies were reported in Karachi; 11 people lost their lives and 8 were wounded. An average of 5 robberies per month were recorded in Karachi last year, which has already jumped to 17 robberies per month this year – more than a three-fold increase in cases of robbery-related casualties in the city.
How a single crime can trigger multiple other crimes is another aspect of robbery-related incidents. The increasing number of robberies are leading some lawful citizens to commit unlawful acts when they retaliate against thieves. Last year, five robberies led to the mob lynching of robbers, leaving three dead and three injured. All these mob lynching incidents took place in Karachi. The same year, 10 cases of robberies were avenged by common individuals, leaving 8 dead and 5 injured. Nine such public reactions were reported in Karachi while one was in Rawalpindi. In January this year alone, three robbers were killed by individuals and one was injured in Karachi.
All these cases are indicative of people’s distrust in the country’s prevailing security system. Unless the police department takes vigilant actions against these crimes, people’s trust in police will remain shaky and common citizens will continue to take law into their own hands. Rogue elements in the police department cause serious damage to the people’s trust of the police department. Letting such officials continue working in the police department until they get caught committing heinous crime is not a good practice, as it brings a bad name to the police, causes indescribable calamity to the affected families, and gives the idea to others to carry out their crimes using the loopholes within the system. When will the police department rise to the occasion and take serious steps to clean its house before things go from bad to worse?
The author is Freelance journalist and Researcher at Center for Research and Security Analysis.