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Chhotu ‘surrenders unconditionally’ to army along with 13 gang members

Chhotu ‘surrenders unconditionally’  to army along with 13 gang members

LAHORE: Leader of the infamous Chhotu gang, Ghulam Rasool, along with 13 gang members has ‘surrendered unconditionally to the army’, the military spokesperson announced on Wednesday, bringing to non-violent end the 21-day long operation in the riverine area of Rajanpur district of southern Punjab.
Addressing a press briefing regarding the ongoing operation in Rajanpur area, Lt Gen Asim Bajwa said, “The military has successfully completed operation Zarb-i-Ahan.” He confirmed that the 24 policemen taken hostage by the Chhotu gang had been rescued.
“However, the army will not vacate the area until all the miscreant elements are neutralised,” Bajwa maintained.
The ISPR chief said that security forces will eliminate this ‘no-go area’ and any other such areas across the country.
Earlier, it was reported that members of the Chhotu gang surrendered to the army and at least 170 gangsters were taken into custody by the armed forces.
Rajanpur District Police Officer Ghulam Mubashir Maikin said that the return of hostages to their families was ‘in process’.
A senior police officer earlier said that the gang had been using the hostages as human shield to protect their women and children.A search operation was also being conducted to secure Rajanpur’s Kacha area.
The army took command of the operation, codenamed Zarb-e-Aahan, on April 15 in an effort to rescue the 24 policemen abducted by the Chhotu gang a week ago. Negotiations between the authorities and the gangsters had been ongoing since the hostage-taking.
While helicopter gunships 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.
The military had launched a full-fledged assault using helicopter gunships, surveillance drones and heavy artillery with unconfirmed reports also suggesting movement of tanks in Kacha Jamal, Shahwali and Sonmiani areas.
A member of the Chhotu gang was arrested in the day when four bandits tried to escape the island. However, three of them managed to run back into the riverine forest. The arrested gangster, identified as Ramzan Machhi, a resident of Chak Umrani, was shifted to an undisclosed location for interrogation.
 Ghulam Rasool alias Chhotu worked as a security guard for MPA Atif Mazari for three to five years in Rojhan, according to police officials. He also worked for the Punjab police as an informer till 2007 and used to give information about gangs involved in robberies and kidnapping for ransom in Rajanpur and Muzaffargarh districts. Chhotu, who belongs to Bakrani clan of Mazari tribe of Rojhan area, later developed differences with police over unknown reasons and established his own gang to carry out criminal activities.
The riverine area of Kachi Jamal in Rajanpur, a stronghold of the Chhotu gang, has a population of more than 10,000 people living in small villages.

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