LAHORE – Following the brazen gun attack on prison policemen in Rasool Park, the Punjab police have launched a massive crackdown against militants across the province and over 100 suspects have been detained. Well-informed sources in the Central Police Office (CPO) revealed that special teams comprising senior officers at the district level have been constituted and the clamp down has been ordered against over a dozen banned outfits. Apart from the district police, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Special Branch and the Special Investigations Cells of the Punjab police have been activated and assigned the task in this regard. The police teams have also been asked to establish close contacts with intelligence officers, serving in the districts, to exchange information and launch joint raids in case of concrete and actionable information. The clamp down on seminaries of banned outfits and located in the sensitive areas of the province, is said to be part of the police deterrence campaign to identity, monitor, and hunt down the miscreants, officials claimed. A senior officer in the provincial police headquarters informed that more than 100 suspects have been detained in Lahore, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Bahawalpur, Chakwal, Sahiwal, Jhang, Okara and Multan districts. “More arrests are expected as the crackdown is underway all over the province,” the officer said. The police teams have also been directed to strictly monitor some 50 religious seminaries identified as suspicious and located in different parts of the province. Most of the Madrassas, which are put under strict surveillance, are situated in Lahore, Jhang, Bahawalpur, Multan, Rawalpindi, and Dera Ghazi Khan. Those detained belonged to Ahl-i-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), Tehrik-e-Jafriya, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, Islami Tehrik Pakistan, Jamiat-ul-Ansar and Jamiat-ul-Furqan. The police have been directed to hunt down those who had been financing the banned outfits by examining their other funding sources and take action under the Anti-Terrorist Act and 16 MPO (Maintenance of Public Order). The District Police Officers (DPOs) are leading the special teams at district level and they would submit their reports to the Inspector General of Police (Punjab) within two weeks. Sources further revealed that special teams have been constituted to also monitor religious sermons and other speeches by the radical clerics particularly during Friday prayers in the most sensitive districts of the province. An officer of the SSP-rank confirmed to TheNation that the police have been directed to immediately put on the watch-list to all those persons who had got training in Afghanistan or they played any role in Afghan jihad in late 80s. It was reliably learnt that most of the detained suspects are being held at private cells rather than police lock-ups and the police did not mention arrests of the suspects in the record at police station level. The sources further said that neither the suspects are produced in the courts anywhere nor the police registered cases against them. “They are being interrogated at private cells. The investigators have seized their mobile phones and experts are examining the data recovered from their handsets,” the sources added. Sources further claimed that the Inspector General of Police Punjab (IGP) Muhammad Habib-ur-Rehman paid specials visits to Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Bahawalpur and Sheikhupura districts during last couple of days to get updates about the ongoing crackdown. The IGP will present a detailed report in this regard to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif by the end of this month. Despite repeatedly attempts on his cell phone, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah was not available for his comments. Inspector General of Police Punjab Muhammad Habib-ur-Rehman, when contacted, confirmed that the police had launched a major crackdown against the suspects, directly or indirectly linked to banned outfits. “The crackdown is underway on the directions of the Punjab government in the wake of terror attack in Lahore. Several seminaries and a good number of clerics have been added in the police watch-list,” the police chief said but declined to share further details. When pointed out that the police have arrested more than 100 suspects, who are being kept at private cells for interrogation even without registration of cases against them, the IGP said, “The police are directed to take action as per law and as per the government directions.” When asked about the main objective of the sudden crackdown, the IGP said that the police are desperately hunting for the terrorists who had carried out the hit-and-run attacks, targeting policemen and Pak Army personnel. When asked the religious leaders detained or put on the watch-list, the police chief said that all the hard-line clerics, either they are in jails or running religious schools, they are under surveillance. When mentioned that the police are keeping the most of suspects in illegal custody for interrogation, the IGP refused to comment further.