LAHORE - Punjab top cop yesterday dispelled the impression that paramilitary troops are exclusively engaged in the anti-terrorism operations in the province.

Inspector General of police Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera said that at least 221 suspects were arrested in the last 24 hours during “combined” operations, underway across the Punjab province.

“During the last 24 hours, the Punjab police conducted 60 search operations and the CTD police carried out 17. Similarly, some 91 combined operations were carried out with other intelligence agencies,” the provincial police chief explained.

Talking to reporters at the Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh yesterday, Sukhera said, “At least 5322 persons were questioned and 221 were arrested during the joint operations”.

The joint operations were launched across the province following the suicide blast in Lahore’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal on Sunday evening in which 65 persons were confirmed dead and over 340 wounded.

Pakistan Army’s spokesman General Asim Bajwa yesterday tweeted that the arrests were made in Lahore, Faisalabad, and Multan districts of the province.

The DG ISPR tweeted, “Intelligence agencies with Army and Rangers carried out five operations in Lahore, Faisalabad, and Multan since last night. Operations continue with more leads coming in”.

Sukhera said the Punjab counter-terrorism department during the last three months carried out extensive operations against high-profile terrorists and their facilitators across the province. “The action resulted in arrest of 67 hardcore activists and at last 24 terrorists were killed in various encounters.

He said that the police would go after the terrorists involved in Lahore blast and the criminals would be brought to justice. “In past hundreds of the police officers and officials laid down their lives to eradicate the menace of terrorism from the province and this practice will continue till the end of last terrorist in Punjab.”

He said that the terrorists are neither Muslims nor human beings. “The Punjab police are (going) after them and they will be taken to task very shortly.”

Earlier, the IGP addressed the officers of newly-introduced Dolphin Force at Police Lines Qila Gujjar Singh. Lahore CCPO Amin Wains, DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf, DIG Investigation Sultan Ahmad Chaudhary and other senior police officers were also present on this occasion.

Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera vowed that the Lahore blast would be worked out very soon as previously the Punjab police traced all important terrorism cases.

Addressing the Dolphin squad, the IGP said that each dolphin cop should come on the road with the spirit as the mentor, head or protector of a family. The IGP said that this is the first ever force in the history of the province for which the Punjab government provided ample funds despite of its limited recourses.

He also said that the microscopic monitoring of this force would be started by the government, citizens, and media persons once they start operations.

Briefing about the operational strategy of the Dolphin Force, Lahore DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said that dolphin squad’s one week practical training was being started yesterday in which they would be imparted training in the Field Dynamics and operational SOPs.

The dolphin squads will operate in 138 different beats inclusive of 110 red-zone beats. All beats will directly be controlled through DIG Operations and one police officer of the rank of SP will supervise the Dolphins. Each beat squad will remain in touch with the rest of police units including Rescue-15, PERU, Traffic Warden, QRF, Special Branch, CTD and Elite Police Force.

On this occasion, the provincial police chief said that the dolphin squads should focus on post incident management so that in case of any incident the citizens should get relief in lodging FIRs which could be managed at the spot by the squad after receiving an application from the complainant.

They should also not only mail the copy of the FIR to the complainant’s residence but also they can use WhatsApp option simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the IGP announced Rs 25,000 as cash reward each, for all 25 Master Trainers of the dolphin force.