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Despite enhanced security: Kidnapping cases up by nearly 50% in Pindi last year

By Mudassir Raja

The number of kidnapping for ransom cases in Rawalpindi region has jumped by nearly 50 per cent in the last year, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to information obtained from two anti-terrorism courts covering Rawalpindi, Attock, Chakwal, and Jhelum, police had sent 31 new kidnapping for ransom cases to the courts in 2016.

This number was up from 21 sent in 2015.

ATC court-I received 11 new cases in the year. The court had decided seven such cases while 11 were still pending trial in 2016.

In ATC court-II, as many as 20 new kidnapping cases were received last year. The court decided 19 such cases while 14 cases were still pending trial last year.

Under the law, ransom and extortion cases are tried by anti-terrorism courts. The kidnappers, if convicted, could get a maximum punishment of the death penalty or life in jail.

While City Police Officer Israr Ahmed Abbasi was not immediately available for his comments, a senior police officer – speaking on the condition of anonymity – said that in a number of cases the kidnappers or extortionists were using mobile SIMs registered in Afghanistan.

He added that if the kidnappers used a registered SIM or landline phone to contact the abducted person’s family, the law enforcers would easily trace the kidnappers.

The police officer added that in most of the cases, organised criminal gangs were found to be involved. Moreover, there were incidents where close relatives or neighbours were found involved in kidnappings for ransom.

Terming the rise alarming, Advocate Basharatullah Khan said that organised gangs are often involved in kidnapping cases. He noted that it was strange that despite extensive efforts by law enforcement agencies against illegal mobile SIMs and outlaws, the number of kidnapping cases was on the rise.

The lawyer, who has represented litigants in several anti-terror cases, said that conviction rates in ransom and extortion cases were higher than in other cases but there were certain instances where the suspects were acquitted after reaching a compromise.

Further, he said that complaints in some cases refuse to identify the kidnappers even after the kidnapped had been released. The lack of witnesses also leads to acquittals.

Terming the rise alarming, Advocate Basharatullah Khan said that organised gangs are often involved in kidnapping cases. He noted that it was strange that despite extensive efforts by law enforcement agencies against illegal mobile SIMs and outlaws, the number of kidnapping cases were on the rise.

The lawyer, who has represented parties in several anti-terror cases, said that conviction rates in ransom and extortion cases were higher than in other cases but there were certain instances where the suspects were acquitted after reaching a compromise. Further, he said that complaints in some cases refuse to identify the kidnappers even after the kidnapped had been released. The lack of witnesses also leads to acquittals.

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