When you feel scared, most people take solace in their homes but for residents of Rajanpur, a small town along the Punjab-Sindh border, people have to seek shelter in the sugarcane fields.
In this area, people’s lives, money and property are not safe. For the past 17 years, the area has been labelled a no-go area for law enforcers too. It’s called the ‘kacha’ and here, criminals have more power than the police.
You can gauge their power by the fact that the army had to be called in two years ago to ‘clean up’ the area. The police couldn’t do much at all.
But a few days after the army cleared the area, the criminals returned and residents were once again left at their mercy.
The most feared gangster in the area was Ghulam Rasool or Chotoo of the Chotoo Gang. Even though Chotoo was arrested by security forces two years ago, the area is still hostile as multiple gangs operate here. There are more than 15 gangs active in the Kacha area — the Andhran gang, Sakhani gang, Lond gang, Imrani gang, Bakhrani gang, Banu gang, Dalani gang, Bangyani gang, Machi gang, Lalhani gang, Sadhwani gang and Chungli gang.
“The gangsters rule the area after the sun sets,” a resident told SAMAA TV. He added that hoodlums would enter their houses and abduct women and children.
“They rape women and asks for ransom,” he said. “And if anyone resisted and didn’t give the money, their houses were attacked with rocket launchers and grenades.”
According to the residents of the kacha, they live in a curfew-like situation after night falls. They don’t leave their houses in the fear that they might get abducted. Many pregnant women have also died because they could not reach the hospital in time.
Ali Muhammad, who lives in Danwei, is a police informer. He said that a few days ago his house was demolished by a rocket launcher fired by the Sakhani gang. Thankfully, no one was injured.
Muhammad said this is not the first time his house has been attacked. Two years ago, his house was attacked with grenades by the Lond, Imrani and Sakhani gangs. Four people were injured during the attack, including a woman and two children. Three buffaloes, two cows and two goats were killed.
Families living in the kacha believe the gangsters work with the cooperation and assistance of the police. They say they have informed the police about the gangs’ activities but no action was taken. For the past two years, the families have been facing the wrath of these gangsters and the police aren’t willing to do anything.
A few days ago, the gangsters raided a number of houses at night and abducted people. The residents say the gangsters are demanding millions of rupees as ransom. Children were injured after the gangsters fired rocket launchers at the houses of people who failed to make the payments.
According to the residents, these gangsters live in Hyderabad Kachi, Chak Kapra, Chak Imrani, Chak Belay Shah, Kacha Karachi and Kacha Mianwali. These gangsters also keep the abducted people in these areas.
Among these kidnapped people is Sadiqabad tehsil Talsi Basti’s resident Samiullah. He was abducted from his house at gunpoint 20 days ago. The gangsters have been asking for Rs10 million for his release but his family doesn’t have that kind of money. When they didn’t pay up, a video of him being tortured was sent to them.
While talking to SAMAA TV, Samiullah’s family shared that the gangsters have been torturing Samiullah. In the videos, he keeps telling them to arrange the money or else they will kill him.
Even after submitting all the phone recordings and videos to the police, they haven’t been able to track him. The family says the police haven’t even filed an FIR.
“The police and gangsters have an agreement under which the police don’t take action against them,” another resident claimed. People say they can’t even approach the police for help.
But District Police Officer Haroon Rasheed says there is complete peace in the area. “It is not possible that the police could be friends with the criminals,” he said, contradicting the statements of hundreds of residents. He added that there is no area in the kacha that is no-go. There are more than 250 personnel deployed in the area with eight pickets at different places he said.