Kidnapping for ransom all-time high in Karachi

November 4th, 2010 - 7:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By Awais Saleem
Islamabad, Nov 4 (IANS) The number of cases related to kidnapping for ransom in Pakistan’s biggest metropolitan city, Karachi, has risen to over 100 this year — an all-time high since the past 20 years.

Citing police records and data compiled by the Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), the Express Tribune Thursday reported that “103 cases of kidnapping for ransom were reported in Karachi since January 2010 and only 18 of these could be tracked down”.

“The month-wise breakdown of the reported cases in 2010 reads 14 kidnappings in January, four in February, seven in March, nine in April, seven in May, 14 in June, 10 in July, 16 in August, 10 in September and 12 cases in October,” the report says adding that “the trend shows an upsurge with each passing month”.

The total number of cases of kidnapping for ransom reported during the last 20 years has reached 763, of which around 390 or 52 percent have been solved by the authorities.

A total of 209 gangs involved in kidnappings have been busted, including 18 in 2010. However, more than 354 cases (48 percent) still remain unsolved.

Criminologist Fateh Muhammad Burfat, a professor at the University of Karachi’s sociology department, said until the flow of illegal weapons is stopped, kidnapping for ransom will not end.

“In my opinion, the huge influx of arms and drugs in our society since the 1980s is to be blamed for the rise in crimes such as kidnapping for ransom cases,” he said.

“Initially, when kidnapping for ransom began in the 1980s, the business class and specifically, Hindu traders in Sindh were targeted,” he said.

“The problem has become more complex since then. Today, kidnapping for ransom is a lucrative business and every influential group, including ethnic, religious and political factions back such criminal networks in one way or the other,” he said.

Karachi has been a victim of poor law and order situation and target killings, other than kidnapping for ransom, and it has given a strong sense of insecurity to the business class, experts say.

On the other hand, law enforcement agencies claim that the situation was well under control and there was nothing to worry about.

Farooq Awan, the newly-appointed chief of the Anti Violence Crime Cell (AVCC) said “kidnapping cases have increased this year, but we recently apprehended some high-profile criminals and now you will witness a sharp drop in such cases”.

Meanwhile, CPLC chief Ahmed Chinoy, whose organisation works in coordination with the AVCC, said: “Sixteen major gangs have been busted over the past five or six months and one can say that the occurrence of such cases will decrease from now onwards.”

Chinoy said “groups backed by militant organisations based in Waziristan have also been involved in kidnapping for ransom”.

Officials from the Sindh Police’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) agree with him, saying that one of the avenues of revenue generation for militant groups is kidnapping.

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