Rawalpindi-Police have badly failed in netting any member of a notorious auto-theft gang involved in picking up the car of a police officer from right under the nose of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Potohar Division some months ago, reliable sources disclosed to The Nation on Monday.

The incident occurred in limits of Police Station (PS) Westridge, which has not only exposed the poor performance of Rawalpindi police but also put a question mark on the vigilance of team of SSP Office, they said. 

The most pathetic and alarming thing is that the local police had not registered case of car theft against the gang members who reportedly had earlier warned several police officers of committing crime, they said. 

The auto-theft gang, headed by a dangerous car-lifter Bilal Sabit, is operating in the various areas of the city for last many years and had deprived hundreds of citizens of their vehicles. Moreover, the gang members including Bilal Sabit is also involved in a series of cases of dacoities, house robberies, attempted murders and murders, sources said.

Though the city police chief and regional police officer have issued security alert in the city to net the members of an auto-theft gang based in Peshawar besides obtaining the “arrest warrants” of a very close broker of Bilal Sabit living in Buner yet the police and personnel of other law enforcement agencies could not get any success.

The police department have failed to control car lifting, which has surged to alarming levels as hundreds of citizens have been deprived of their vehicles during the year, said Advocate Raja Junaid Altaf, a victim whose car was also lifted from the limits of PS Civil Lines (Potohar Division). He said he has been made a shuttlecock between offices of senior police officers to get arrested the car lifters and to recover his stolen car. 

Similarly, another citizen Sajjad Hussain Shah revealed that his car was taken away by an auto-theft gang from precinct of PS Civil Lines and an FIR was also lodged by the police on his complaint. 

He said police could not trace out the car lifters while he managed to get back his stolen car from car lifters against Rs 450,000 ransom. “I met a broker Nowsherwan in Buner who received ransom and linked me with other car lifters who returned my car,” he said.

Similarly, many other victims of car theft expressed their deep concerns over the poor performance of Rawalpindi police and demanded Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Inam Ghani and Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Khan Buzdar to take strict action against the top command of police for their failure in controlling car theft incidents in the city.

During a background interaction with The Nation, City Police Chief Muhammad Ahsan Younas confirmed the incident of car theft in a highly sensitive area where offices of SSP Potohar Division and Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) are situated.

He said he had taken stern action against the police officers for showing negligence that led to pilfering of car of a police officer. “We have been making hard efforts to arrest the gang members,” he said adding that Bilal Sabit, the ring leader, had fled to Dubai. “Police will write a letter to Punjab Home Department to request Ministry of Interior, Islamabad to bring back Bilal Sabit through Interpol,” said top commander of Rawalpindi police.

Similarly, Regional Police Officer (RPO) Rawalpindi Region, during an interview with this correspondent, also claimed that the police have obtained arrest warrants for Nowsherwan, a broker linked with Bilal Sabit gang, residing in Buner. 

He said police are facing some barriers in carrying out raids to handcuff the car lifters hiding in Peshawar and its suburbs because home department had banned such direct operations by Punjab police anywhere in the province.