Killing of people in street crimes

KARACHI: Speakers at a meeting on 22nd May 2024 discussed reasons behind the alarming rise in street crime in Karachi, its psychological impacts on citizens, the role of state, and suggested solutions to overcome that menace which was causing deaths in the city on a daily basis.

The meeting organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in collaboration with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) was participated by rights activists, journalists and police officials.

Speaking about the role of the state, HRCP chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt said that the state was not doing what it was supposed to in the face of alarming rise in street crime. It was rather considering itself exempted from that responsibility, he said.

Mr Butt said around 70 per cent of the country’s children went to private schools and, in the same manner, majority of the people headed to private hospitals for better treatment and, in all that, the government was sitting comfortably.

Similarly, he said, the authorities were not doing their duties when it came to street crime.

He said people, especially the youth, took the path of crimes mainly due to poverty, frustration and rising inflation. On the other hand, those who often resisted mugging bids were also youngsters, and both were being killed, he added.

He said there was a need to develop a proper methodology to control the menace of street crime and the state needed to be pressurised to play its role.

SSP Shehla Qureshi said street crime was a major challenge and police were trying its best to tackle that but the department was facing various challenges that created difficulties for police such as shortage of manpower and meagre resources.

She said people also needed to play their role as citizens and inform police about suspicious persons around them.

Journalist Riaz Sohail said police and government officials claimed that a hype was created on the media about street crime and that the ratio of crimes was not that alarming. On the contrary, however, street crime was often under reported, he said.

Mr Sohail said that despite having the police department, special forces and laws, street crime was not being brought under control.

He said people did not trust the police and there was no protection for witnesses due which they did not come forward to speak against criminals. Furthermore, a large number of police personnel were deployed for security of ministers, judges and other officials, he added.

Dr Sana Yasir, a mental health professional, said victims of street crime, their families as well as witnesses of such crimes often got mentally disturbed and depressed, which could lead to other mental health problems such as trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Therefore, she said authorities should collaborate with mental health institutes in order to help such people in consulting with mental health experts as no such facilities were available with police.

Acknowledgement: Published in Dawn News on 23rd May 2024.

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