LAHORE - The Punjab provincial capital Lahore is a major city under development with a growing population, presently estimated to be approximately 10 million. 

Virtually, the historic city has become a safe heaven for the gangsters and robbers, who are striking brazenly and with impunity in every nook and corner of the town.

Armed robberies have become order of the day which is evident from the fact that dacoits looted no less than 64 houses in just last seven days and snatched away cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth Rs46.75 million after holding the families hostage at gunpoint.

Road robberies involving two or more than two armed motorcyclists are also common. For an instance, armed bandits on Saturday continued looting spree in the provincial metropolis and robbed residences, passersby, motorists and families at gunpoint and escaped with millions of rupees.

An evident shows that the gunmen forced their entry into a shop in the Akbari Gate police area and escaped after snatching Rs2.5 million. The shop owner, Noor Sheikh, was admitted to the Mayo hospital in critical condition.

Dozens of traders and shopkeepers went on strike soon after the daylight robbery and staged strong protest against the police. While protesting against the worsening law and order situation in the city, they were of the view that the entire business community was left at the mercy of bandits. They also closed down the road for traffic by setting the tyres on fire and chanted slogans against the government, demanding the authorities to provide them protection before imposing new taxes on the small businesses.

Also on the same day, gangsters robbed three houses in the Hanjarwal, North Cantonment and Naseerabad police precincts and snatched away cash, gold ornaments and worth 2.2 million after holding the families hostage at gunpoint. Not enough, armed bandits riding on motorcycles also looted families, motorists and passersby in the Satu Katla, South Cantonment, Iqbal Town, Sabzazar, Nawan Kot, Raiwind, Green Town, Race Course and Old Anarkali police limits and escaped after collecting cash, gold ornaments, mobile phones and other valuables worth two million rupees. At least four cars and 15 motorcycles were either snatched or stolen away from different parts of the city on the same day. Dacoits on Thursday robbed five houses in different parts of the provincial metropolis and made off with cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth Rs4.6 million at gunpoint.

Five gunmen walked into the house of Zafar Rahman in Faisal Town, held up the family members at gunpoint and snatched away cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth Rs1.2 million.

The four armed bandits stormed into the house of Gulzar Ahmed in North Cantonment and took away cash, gold ornaments and other valuables worth one million rupees. Four robbers equipped with automatic weapons forced their entry into the house of Khushnood Maqbool in the Iqbal Town police area and escaped after collecting cash, gold ornaments, and valuables worth Rs 9 million. Gunmen also robbed two houses located in the Nishtar Colony and Township precincts and escaped after snatching cash and gold ornaments worth Rs1.5 million.

Meanwhile, robbers also looted passersby, motorists, and families in Sabzazar, Sanda, Shahdara Town, Nawab Town, and Johar Town and made off with cash, gold ornaments, mobile phones and other valuables worth three million rupees. Three cars were also driven away from Raiwind, Gulberg, and Johar Town while seven motorcycles were either snatched or stolen away from Factory Area, Civil Lines, Mozang, Green Town, Islampura, North Cantonment, and Gulshan-e-Ravi police areas. The police are investigating. Police sources revealed that no less than two dozen people including women were murdered or wounded on offering resistance during armed robberies in Lahore during last couple of months.

The police investigators have failed to trace out the criminals in most of the robbery-cum-murder cases. Though the police staged fake encounters across the Punjab, mostly in Lahore and killed in no less than 100 alleged bandits during the first five months of this year.

The new formula of ‘Killing the Criminals to Downgrade Crimes’ poorly failed to improve the worsening law and order situation in the capital of the Punjab. The crime experts suggested the extension of Police Emergency Service (Rescue-15) to ensure immediate respond to the crime happenings.