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71 arrested in crackdown on arms display, land mafia

PESHAWAR: As many as 71 persons have been arrested in one week during the crackdown launched on the new-rich displaying automatic guns in public and spreading terror in the society.

“We have launched a crackdown to de-weaponise Peshawar. Actions are underway in all parts of the city against the groups and individuals involved in displaying arms in public,” said Capital City Police Officer Abbas Ahsan.

“Our culture is hospitality, courage, loyalty and kindness and it should not be guns and violence,” he said, adding, “let us join hands and say no to this unlawful and senseless gun-toting culture.”

The campaign is proceeding aggressively after a number of complaints that newly rich and so-called VIPs were spreading terror in the society. Reports said many people roam in urban and rural areas of Peshawar and rest of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along with dozens of gunmen in escort cars, challenging the writ of the state.

“As many as 71 people have been arrested during the crackdown in the provincial capital since May 23,” an official told The News. He added that 36 AK-47s, 22 Kalashnikovs, 25 pistols, four M4, one M16 and ten vehicles have been recovered from the accused during the actions.

“The cops also recovered police uniforms, revolving lights and wireless sets from the held accused who were using it illegally for the show-off,” said the official. He added that cases were being lodged against the accused under Section 15AA.

Many of these armed groups are allegedly involved in criminal activities, including land grabbing and crimes.

An official said that apart from the armed guards, the police have started action against the land mafia in the city, suburbs and villages of Peshawar district to give relief to innocent people being terrorised by these groups.

Apart from Peshawar, all the regional and district police officers have been issued special directives to go after the individuals who are brandishing automatic weapons in escort cars for the show-off in the urban and rural areas of the province. They have also been directed to take action against the land mafia and those who have fitted revolving lights on their cars.

“We have launched a crackdown on those carrying guns in escort cars for spreading terror. A drive is also underway against the land mafia and their lists are being compiled for lodging cases against them to give relief to the common man,” said District Police Officer Mardan, Zahidullah Khan.

Police in other districts of the province have also started action against the armed groups and those involved in social crimes.

There were a number of complaints that many so-called VIPs do it purposely to spread terror in the society and later use it for land grabbing and other white-collar crimes.

A number of individuals carrying several gunmen in escort cars to impress and terrorise the general public is the new trend promoted in recent years.

This trend of roaming with a large number of gunmen, including policemen in many cases or civilians impersonating as cops, had become a challenge for the police and other law- enforcement agencies.

There were a number of videos on social media of some individuals, members of the newly rich families and local level politicians being escorted by several gunmen in many vehicles with tinted glasses to show-off their power.

These guards rush out and take positions as is done on the arrival of the chief minister or any VVIP when these individuals arrive to attend any social event where a large number of people are present.

Most of these people and families carry gunmen with an intention to spread terror in the area and later use it for land grabbing through so-called jirgas and many white-collar criminal activities by putting pressure on the public. Apart from KP, videos of individuals from Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh have also gone viral on social media in which they are seen being guarded by a large number of gunmen in several escort cars.

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