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Extortion case: Police involvement cannot be ruled out, says IGP

Pakistan on 10 September 2013
Location : Islamabad, Pakistan | Source : Express Tribune. Image Source: Express Tribune

The capital’s top cop admitted in court that his subordinates may be involved in extortion. Traders in Sabzi Mandi are forced to pay millions in extortion every month, Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP), Sikandar Hayat, told Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday.

He was summoned by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on September 7 to explain the rise in extortion cases in the area and the illegal occupation of land there by Afghan residents.

A petition had been filed by an Afghan refugee alleging that a group of influential traders, with the backing of the police and some politicians, takes money from vendors at gunpoint. He further said that numerous complaints have been lodged with the senior superintendent of police (SSP) and the Sabzi Mandi SHO, but no action had been taken against the culprits.

Admitting the facts, the IGP said, “Yes, police involvement in the case cannot be ruled out. Additionally, there are two Afghan trader groups involved in extortion there, including the one which filed the petition”. He also acknowledged the establishment of around 1,500 stalls in the area.

In an assurance to the court, the IGP said police will take stern action against the extortionist and claimed that he had appointed two reputed officers — Operations Deputy Inspector General Sultan Azam and Deputy Superintendent of Police Malik Tahir — to investigate.

Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Nadeem Hassan Asif, who had failed to take action against 864 families illegally living in Afghan Basti, also appeared before the court, but failed to appease the judge while claiming that the authority will soon start an anti-encroachment campaign in the area.

Justice Siddiqui seemed annoyed both with the police and CDA and noted that the illegal practice will spread all over Islamabad.  The evil of extortion should be eliminated from the capital he said.

“However, the extortionists remain active and the police are protecting them,” he observed in a packed courtroom.

The court directed the officials to submit a detailed report and adjourned the matter till September 18.

The crime rate in the I-11 Afghan Basti is higher the rest of the city. A grand operation against illegal residents, criminals and other rogue elements in the area was announced by the CDA in January, but the plan was later scrapped without any explanation.

Of the 864 families, 47 are from Punjab, 114 are registered Afghans, 27 non-registered Afghans, 324 families from Mohmand and Bajaur agencies, and 352 families from various other cities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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