Policing in Katcha/Riverine Areas

By Syed Kaleem Imam

Policing in Katcha region’s complexity cannot be overstated, with a multitude of actors and factors at play. However, what is especially alarming is the deep state’s significant interest, enabling gangs to operate with minimal interference if they do not align themselves with Baloch insurgents.

Compounding the issue is the unwavering support of local waderas/sardars, who have aligned themselves with the ruling government, manipulating elections, maintaining possession of land, and settling political scores.

Unbelievably, officials continue to claim ‘ghost canal’ repair bills due to corruption, while unregulated milk from thousands of buffaloes is openly sold, and crops are marketed without proper documentation in nearby areas by criminals with head money.

It is no secret that adjacent discreet route is being used to smuggle both Iranian petrol and betelnuts to the mainland. These illegal activities fund criminal enterprises, and some even employ ‘honey trap’ tactics for kidnapping and ransom.

To be fair many inhabitants of katcha areas, including criminals, are slaves to criminal feudals. Civil armed forces conduct dummy exercises where registered criminals are coaxed to surrender, only to be released without lawful process.

Often, criminals don’t know they have a bounty on their heads until they are re-arrested.

What is even more distressing is the police force’s alleged involvement in killing captives in custody-not in any operations and falsely claiming their death as due to dangerous encounters, immorally seeking recognition through medals and awards.

It is deeply troubling that despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the counterproductive and harmful nature of the militarization of policing and the use of extrajudicial measures, leadership continues to turn a blind eye.

As a society, we cannot claim to be just and equitable until we recognize that all lives are equally valuable and take concrete steps to end these practices.

On other hand many police officers are dying not in combats but during movements in the market or as targets for being at the wrong place.

Despite this, they are often hailed as martyrs, when, their casualties were due to unprofessionalism. Police must improve operational capabilities to save their lives rather than putting themselves at risk and seeking sympathy later.

It is worth mentioning that Rizwan Ahmed Khan SSP Sheikhupur in 2019 took a bold stance against an MPA, Teghanis, Jakhranis, Jaghranis, Jatois, and other gangs operating in the region. Unfortunately, this nearly cost him his job.

Despite his efforts, the local waderas maintain significant power and continue to support these gangs, making it incredibly difficult for law enforcement to take decisive action.

A nuanced and comprehensive approach to address the root causes is need of time and not playing to gallery.