Rawalpindi—The ringleader of infamous criminal gang has laid down weapons along with his over 170 comrades, bringing to an end a 21-day-long operation in the riverine area of Rajanpur district of South Punjab.
In his twitter message, Director General ISPR Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa said Chhottu along with his thirteen members surrendered unconditionally. He said that all twenty four hostage policemen were also rescued safely.
The DG ISPR further stated that families of dacoits including twenty four ladies and forty four children were recovered safely from the Island and the combing operation is now being carried out to cleanse the area of any remaining dacoit. He said that Chotoo has been shifted to an undisclosed location for further interrogation.
The Army had taken control of Rajanpur Zarb-e- Ahan operation on April 16 after police suffered casualties and their 24 personnel were taken hostage by the areas gangsters.
According to sources Chhotu had agreed to turn himself in as the military was preparing to launch an assault against his gang holed up in the island. While helicopter gun ships continued to target hideouts of the Chhotu gang in Kacha Jamal on Tuesday, ground troops did not use heavy weaponry for the safety of the kidnapped policemen.
Sources said the gang had been using the kidnapped policemen, and women and children as a human shield during the operation, forcing the military not to take decisive action. The bombproof tanks transported to the island had been held back.
Army helicopters, on the instructions of the interior ministry, dropped pamphlets asking the criminals to surrender, offering them leniency along with a last warning to the gangsters.
Asim Saleem Bajwa reiterated the resolve that no go areas will be eliminated from across the country.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government issued names of 96 criminals associated with the Chhotu gang, setting up to Rs2 million bounties on the heads of some of them.
The list includes many facilitators of Chottu from Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh districts.
The interior ministry has also summoned the case records of these criminals from the relevant police stations across the province.
It is pertinent to mention that Chhotu, the ringleader of the gangsters worked as a security guard for MPA Atif Mazari for three to five years in Rojhan. Besides, he also served as an informer for the Punjab police and used to inform the department about gangs involved in robberies and kidnapping for ransom in Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh districts.
According police officials, Chotoo belongs to Bakrani clan of Mazari tribe of Rojhan area. He later developed differences with police over unknown reasons and established his own gang to carry out criminal activities.
Some small and prominent gangs operating in Rojhan, Dera Ghazi Khan and adjoining districts of Sindh and Balochistan also joined the Chotoo gang. They include Bilal alias Bilali Jaakha, Baba Long, Gumani Gopang, Sindhi group, Bosans of Muzaffargrah and Khalid Kajlani.
Chhotn is known for helping the locals and never carried out any criminal activity in the area. But he made it a no-go area for police who found it almost impossible to get information about him from the locals.