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DHA Karachi no longer a safe haven

The crime rate in the city is increasing by the day and areas previously considered safe havens, such as the posh Defence Housing Authority, are now becoming more dangerous than ever. From simple cases of eve teasing to street crimes and even terrorist attacks, DHA is far from the crime free zone it once was.

Some of the major recent terror attacks took place in the locality with the attack on SSP Mohammad Aslam Khan’s residence. A suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into the police official’s house and the attack took place in an area that is surrounded by several schools and many innocent people lost their lives that day, while houses, educational institutes and other buildings were badly damaged.

Observers considered this a major security lapse on the part of law enforcement agencies. The other recent terrorist attack was in Seaview of Defence, near one of the most popular restaurants of the area.

They added that while law enforcement agencies had increased security at important installations such as consulates and the residences of senior officials as well as bureaucrats, there was no safety for the area’s residents. Observers pointed out that there was no security seen at the entry and exit points of DHA. Such ignorance, they believed, allowed the ‘White Corolla’ rapist to roam the area freely and sexually assault women at will. The criminal was only apprehended after law enforcement agencies struggled for months.

Cases of women being molested during house robberies and street crimes have also become commonplace, with law enforcers of the area seemingly powerless to stop such offenses.

Speaking to The News on the condition of anonymity, a senior officer said that DHA has a number of entry points and apart from the major ones of Shireen Jinnah Colony, Korangi Road, Abdullah Shah Ghazi and Boating Basin, there were narrow points which proved helpful for criminals.

He claimed that the shortage of manpower and resources were a major hurdle in the path of controlling crime, adding that manning such a large area was very difficult. The officer said that during snap checking, people entering DHA would argue that they were heading towards public places such as Seaview, Bagh-i-Ibne Qasim or Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s Mazaar. He said that if the law enforcers stopped them from entering, the public would start arguing and criminals took advantage of this by sneaking through the checkpoints.

He also claimed that prostitution rings had established their dens in DHA and most of these criminals operated from the Napier area. The officer said this was another major reason why crimes had increased in the up market locality. These places, he added, were established in bungalows and flats of commercial areas, where alcohol would be served to the customers. As a result, many of the drunken people would commit crimes and take advantage of the dark of night to rob residents of the area.

According to the investigations of the police, residents of Defence were seldom involved in the offenses committed in the area and most of the crimes were carried out by people hailing from Shireen Jinnah Colony, North Karachi, Korangi, Orangi and Lyari areas.

Thousands of people come to Defence on a daily basis who are neither residents of the area nor do they have family living there, but are there to visit the aforementioned public places, the officer said. He said that in some cases, people from other areas suffer a complex when they see the opulent lifestyle of Defence’s residents and this drives them to commit street crimes or robberies

Apart from street crimes in which many of the area residents were robbed of mobile phones, jewelry and other items, another major issue was the molestation of young girls at areas such as Seaview or other popular dating spots. Since most of the young girls were either bunking school or college or skipping office, they refused to report the cases as they feared the wrath of their parents. Investigators said that most cases of molestation would take place during the evening or late night hours.

Officers said that DHA is fast becoming a hub for criminals where cases of street crime, molestation, robbery and vehicle snatching were being reported on a daily basis. They alleged that the increase in such offenses was mainly due to security lapses on the part of the DHA establishment, adding that it seemed like planners failed to concentrate on the entry and exit points of the locality.

Observers said the Defence Housing Authorities established in Lahore and Islamabad had just one or two entry points, which were manned by their vigilance staff. As a result, the crime rate in the DHAs of those cities was much less.

The officers suggested that DHA Karachi should minimise its entry and exit points, which should be manned by vigilance staff. They also advised that only one or two routes should be able to access public places such as Seaview and Bagh-i-Ibne Qasim.

A spokesman for the DHA said the authority was planning on installing a central command system (CCS) throughout the area.

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