ISLAMABAD - Call it ignorance or lack of interest, law enforcement agencies, despite knowing the fact that the federal capital’s suburb, Bhara Kahu, was fast turning into haven for militants and suspicious elements, were yet to take action to make the city a safe place.
Situated at a distance of almost three kilometers from the capital’s red zone, which is home to Prime Minister/President Houses and Diplomatic Enclave, Bhara Kahu is fast turning into a safe haven for militants and suspicious elements. It is the same locality where Naseer-ud-Din Haqqani, one of the top men of Haqqani Network, was shot dead November last.
Key security officials based in Islamabad believe the areas of federal capital including Bhara Kahu, Bari Imam and Afghan Basti, were attractive places for militants and suspected elements who keep on taking refuge there and flee after completing tasks.
One of key security officials told The Nation on condition of anonymity that hundreds of members of banned militant organisations were still living in the suburbs of federal capital and that Islamabad district administration had no record regarding them.
“How can we make the capital a safe city in presence of hundreds of militants and specious elements living in slum areas? Lives of almost a million residents of the federal capital would be at risk until we get rid of these elements,” said one of the top officials of the Federal Interior Ministry.
Chaudhary Mohammad Aslam, SHO Bhara Kahu Police, however, denied the presence of militants or suspicious elements in his area.
“We have facilitated Special Branch which conducted a survey of Bhara Kahu two months back. The Special Branch of Islamabad capital police has complete track record of residents of this locality and I assure you not a single militant is residing in areas falling under jurisdiction of Bhara Kahu police station,” Aslam told The Nation.
Contrary to what the police officer told The Nation, residents of Bhara Kahu who spoke with this correspondent, believe suspicious elements may still be living there. Of such residents, Shabbir Ahmed, 42, who runs a grocery shop in the area, said entrance of big vehicles with (tinted glasses) in the residential areas of Bhara Kahu, was still a routine matter.
According to Shabbir, most of the residents of Bhara Kahu belonged to lower middle class, so they can’t afford having such costly vehicles. Rather, he estimated, the vehicles might belong to some wealthy people hailing from tribal areas.
Asked how he knew the riders might be hailing from tribal areas, Shabbir said it was their appearance and heavy built which show they were from tribal areas.
“They are living here in great numbers. Even their neighbours would have no idea who is living next door,” Shabbir said.
Bhara Kahu, a small locality which is home to residences of government officials and lower middle class, has a history of giving refuge to militants and suspects. In September 2013 secret agencies and Islamabad capital territory police had recovered a huge quantity of explosives from a house situated in the area and arrested two accused.
In November 2013, armed men shot dead Naseer-ud-Din Haqqani in Bhara Kahu. Sources said that Naseer-ud-Din Haqqani had long been living at a safe house in the area. Interestingly, he was not living there alone as a number of other militants associated with Haqqani Network were with him. However, Islamabad capital territory police could never get a glimpse of these militants.
On August 9, 2013, a suicide bomber was shot dead by a guard of an Imambargah situated in the area. Investigation into the incident revealed that the suicide bomber belonged to Chiniot district of Punjab. He had moved to a house situated in Bhara Kahu one week before going on a suicide mission. The Islamabad police could not even get to know that a teenager bomber was living in the area until he was shot dead by a guard of the Imambargah.
On August 31, 2013, a team of Islamabad police arrested two TTP militants including Hammad Adil and Muhammad Tanveer, allegedly involved in the killing of former minister for minorities affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, from their hideout in Phulgran area of Bara Kahu. The minister was shot dead in the heart of Islamabad on May 2, 2011.
Arrest of militants from the suburb of Islamabad, once again proved that this area continues to give refuge to militants and suspects despite tall claims made by the high-ups of ICT police from time to time.
Apart from Bhara Kahu, other suburbs known to be attractive places for militants include Tarnol, Afghan Basi and Golra Sharif.
On 10 November 2013, a team of ICT police had arrested a couple of terrorists from a house in Sector I10/2 in the middle of the night. The police seized a huge quantity of explosives during the raid.
According to the data obtained by The Nation, as many as 110,000 people, mostly Afghans, are still living in suburbs of federal capital and that the ICT police has no record regarding most of them.