Policing in Kacha Areas

By Parvez Chandio

When an Indus River fully extends its arms during peak of monsoon season, water fills fully, the space between both right and left flood protective bunds, running all along and parallel to the mighty Indus.
After the season is over water flow squeezes to its original size leaving huge land irrigated on both flanks. Due to this irrigation, the area becomes soft, from which the word *Kacha * is derived in native language.
Naturally, this kacha area had developed thick forests on both sides thus leaving no space for inhabitants. Historically people known as Macchi, Solangi and Mir Baher, who are known as fishermen are mainly son of soil and were solely dependent on fishing from Indus waters.

Meanwhile, different Balouch and other Sindhi tribes settled nearer to kacha area to own some pieces of land as it’s neither settled nor formally allotted to anyone by the government. Legally whole kacha are belongs to forest department.
Thus a tug of war started between powerful people, communities and groups to own more land by manipulating forest officers and physically pressuring other weak groups and tribes trying to control the kacha area.
During 70’s timber mafia landed from different parts of country and in connivence with local tribes, forest officers and police started this illegal business. Lot of latest and illegal weapons and ammunition were smuggled from Afghanistan by timber mafia and distributed in locals to protect their economic stake. This started a power game and race of weaponisation. Initially main source of earning was wood and due to weaponisation and local fights over forest a concept of gangs and dacoits emerged in the area. In early 80’s famous Sindhi Balouch dacoit Paro Chandio who was resident of Sona Bindi a kacha area of Dadu district was result of this menace. Who later became Robbin Hood of Sindh and encouraged dacoit culture from a stage already set.
A new challenge emerged for police to deal with, for which no senior police leadership had thought or conceived.
The police instead of securing forests and dealing with the cause joined the timber mafia and local influentials by convincing the senior leadership to wipe out the forests as it was well-established hideout for dacoits. So with the passage of the next 30 years, almost all forests were eliminated and sold out to stakeholders.
As these new virgin lands were very fertile and are giving yield five times more then a common irrigated land therefore a new challenge emerged to grab more land. Timber mafia had left as there were no forests but left the kacha area with so many weapons, outlaws and tribal feuds.
At the moment it’s an economic war between powerful and more powerful. But the price is being paid by innocent citizens and Police.

Way Forward
1). As there are no forests now, therefore the land be formally surveyed and distributed to local farmers with a maximum of 12 acres.
2). Settlements of tribal conflict.
3). Isolating hard-core criminals from their community sympathisers by striking off their names from false and manipulated FIRs.
4). Short and Targeted Police operations.
5). Strong accountability of local police officers involved in supporting powerful stakeholders.
6). Sometimes police become part of crop looting in wheat harvesting season ( directly or indirectly) on pretext that it belongs to dacoits and denying them the money which allegedly they use to purchase weapons must be stopped and delinquent officers must be punished.
7). Provision of basic facilities like schools, health and electricity.
8). Road network for easy accessibility.
9). Free and fair justice to each individual and community. This should be monitored by SP himself as Police station staff does not have capacity and capability to deal with well-connected influencers who exploit these innocent individuals for their monetary and political gains.
10). Immoral and illegal arm twisting of weak people by local greedy powerful tribal head must be checked and prosecuted by SSP and DIG of area.
11). Job opportunities to eligible kacha residents, especially in the police.
12). De weaponisation of the area by giving a one-time amnesty to gen public with some monetary incentive.