Crime & Justice

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police crack down on drugs, usury

By Javed Khan

A Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police officer addresses mosque-goers in Peshawar January 13 as part of an awareness-raising campaign against drugs, aerial firing and usury. [Javed Khan]

A Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police officer addresses mosque-goers in Peshawar January 13 as part of an awareness-raising campaign against drugs, aerial firing and usury. [Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police have launched a campaign against aerial firing, extortionate moneylending and drug use, and are seeking the help of elders in combatting these social ills.

"All the station house officers and the sub divisional police officers are carrying out daily raids against those involved in sale of drugs, aerial firing and usury," Senior Superintendent of Police Operations Peshawar Sajjad Khan told Pakistan Forward.

In addition, he said, senior police officials have been visiting the offices of elected representatives and elders to raise awareness among them and to seek their help in countering crime in society.

"Apart from visiting the elders, the officers are addressing gatherings ahead of the Friday prayers in major mosques to educate the people and seek their help against [those crimes]," Khan said.

Police officers in other districts have also launched a campaign against these crimes, KP Inspector General of Police Nasir Khan Durrani said.

"A large number of people have been arrested for violations, while an awareness campaign is also going on," he told Pakistan Forward, adding that police have been visiting mosques and holding meetings with elders to enlist their help.

Elders support campaign

The campaign has received an overwhelming positive response, officials say.

Many religious scholars have asked worshippers to co-operate with police in going after criminals, terrorists and all those violating the law of the land.

"The elders, nazims, councilors and every individual should support police and other forces against criminals and terrorists to ensure permanent peace in Peshawar and the rest of the country," said Maulana Shahabur Rahman, prayer leader of a mosque in Suburb Circle of Peshawar.

Parents and elders of the family should keep an eye on their children to keep them from using drugs, he said. In addition, "celebratory firing [...] has claimed thousands of lives in the country and must be stopped", he told Pakistan Forward.

Usury, or extortionate moneylending, is forbidden in Islam, he said, and those who are exploiting the needy with astronomical interest rates must be dealt strictly.

"The practice has ruined the lives of thousands of families, as there was no law to go after the money-lenders," he said.

"The police have been doing well against drug sellers and against those [practicing] aerial firing and looting the needy people through usury," said Arbab Wisal, nazim of the Bahader Kelay village council in Peshawar.

Elected representatives and elders thoroughly support the drive against these practices, he said.

"No one supports these practices that are either killing innocent people or looting all their earnings and properties," he told Pakistan Forward.

Uptick in arrests

Police arrested 78 people and registered 65 cases against those involved in usury in the past three months, according to Capital City Police Officer Peshawar Muhammad Tahir.

"The campaign against usury and other social evils has been going on in full swing for the last three months," he told Pakistan Forward.

From October through December 2016, police registered 445 cases against people involved in aerial firing, he said. "The elders of the society have been engaged to discourage the practice, which has claimed precious lives in the past," he said.

"During the past three months, 770 peddlers were arrested and over 600 cases were lodged against them after 478kg of hashish, 15kg of heroin and 51kg of opium were recovered from their custody," he said.

Police have conducted 1,026 search-and-strike operations in Peshawar over the past year, in which 2,125 proclaimed offenders were arrested, Tahir said, adding that the arrest rate is 22% higher than in 2015.

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