Retrospect of crime in Punjab during 2004
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE: 2004 turned out to be a terrible year for the Punjab police, as terrorism raged across the province and authorities remained clueless about several major cases despite public outcry.
Police statements boasting efficient vigilance resounded hollow as massive killings in Mughalpura and bomb blasts in Sialkot, Multan and Mochi Gate, Lahore created one of the worst law and order situations in recent history. Police sources stated that 146,478 criminal cases were registered by police stations in Punjab from November 16, 2003 to December 15. Of these, 4,957 were of murder cases, 6,341 of attempted murder, 10,274 were of adultery, 143 of gang rape, 4,792 of abduction and 97 of kidnapping. Of 28,858 robberies registered, 1,602 were dacoities, 8,421 muggings, 1,487 thefts, 10,287 breaking and entering and 7,061were car thefts. Also 48,205 weapons cases and 42,811 narcotics cases were reported.
Lahore Capital City Police arrested 1,644 criminals belonging to 311 gangs during 2004 while 9,680 proclaimed offenders and 12,440 court absconders were also rounded up. Looted and stolen property worth Rs 480 million was also seized. The detained criminals confessed to 3,523 cases including 13 cases of dacoity-cum-murder, 27 of murder, 118 of dacoity, 1,154 of robbery, 903 of burglary and 1,308 of other crimes.
The stolen and looted property recovered during this period included 22 kg of gold jewellery, Rs 10 million in cash, 3 Pajero jeeps, 9 trucks, 2 wagons, 5 tractors, 3 pickups, 14 auto rickshaws, 95 cars, 295 motorcycles, 53 cycles, 25 VCR, 112 TV, calling cards worth Rs 1.9 million, wristwatches, computers, fridge and washing machines. Police also arrested 9,680 proclaimed offenders out of which 484 were wanted in murder cases, 784 in attempted murder cases, 237 for dacoities, 628 for robberies, 1,431 for burglaries and 6,116 in other cases.
Of the court absconders arrested, 55 were wanted in murder cases, 337 in attempted murder cases, 43 for dacoities, 241 for robberies, 907 for burglaries and 10,857 in other cases.
Major police event of 2004: May 11: Police became frantic when opposition parties attempted to draw out a procession in the city to welcome the return of Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the chief of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, despite government threats. The police had to seal the entire city and ended up arresting hundreds of activists of PML-N.
May 14: Six members of a Shia family, including two women and an infant were shot dead at their home in Mughalpura. Naveed Haider Shah (32), his wife Sobia (27), sister Saima (28), brother-in-law Sajjad (33), one-year-old niece Fatima and seven-year-old maid Sobia were shot in the head. The hands and feet of all victims except Fatima were bound and their mouths were gagged with plastic tape.
Police said that “Shias are infidels” was painted on the house walls and suspected the act to be the result of sectarian intolerance. The mass murder, the fourth such gruesome act in Lahore since 1991, went unsolved like the rest.
On June 26, 1991 unidentified assailants slaughtered 13 members of a family in Islampura. The victims included women and children. In July 1997, four women and children were shot dead in Samanabad. In October 2000, seven people including three women were killed in Faisal Town. In September 24, 2003 eight people including women and children were shot dead in Allama Iqbal Town.
June 01: A mysterious ear-splitting explosion shook the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) ground near the Army Guest House. However, no casualty or property damage was reported.
Later, on December 20, police announced the arrest of some terrorists who confessed that Suleman alias Munna Bhaiee, Mehmood Ahmad and Sajjad Haider Shah had installed a missile at the PAF ground.
October 01: Two suicide bombers killed 31 people and injured dozens more in a crowded Shia mosque, Imam Bargah Mistri Abdullah (Jamia Masjid Zanabia) at 1:27pm after Friday prayers. October 07: 39 people were killed and over 70 were injured when a powerful car bomb ripped through a gathering commemorating the first death anniversary of Maulana Azam Tariq in Multan. October 10: A suicide bomber blew himself up at a Mochi Gate Shiite mosque, killing four persons and injuring seven.
December 04: Three schoolgirls and a teacher were killed and more than 65 school children and teachers were injured (10 of them seriously) when a 30-foot-high ride collapsed in Sozo Water Park.
The teachers and students were from Sidra Public School, Samar Public School and Shaheen Public School and had come to the park for a picnic. Schoolteacher Saima (91), Amina Tehseen (11) and Saadia (12) died instantly while Sidra Baloch (10) died in the hospital.