Mian Gul, a rickshaw driver, was banging his fists on the walls of the Jinnah hospital in grief when doctors pronounced the death of his only daughter, five-year-old Laiba, who suffered two gunshot wounds on Thursday. One of the bullets had pierced her ribs on the right side, while another had torn away her tiny arm. The inconsolable father was pushing his relatives away from the body, as they were trying to pull a white cloth over the ghost-white face.
At least 24 people were shot dead on Thursday in violence that was triggered two days ago by the killing of an Awami National Party representative in Qasba Colony.
Laiba was one of Qasba’s latest casualties. According to a relative, Zahid Gul, the young girl was coming home from a madrassa in the neighbourhood when she was caught in a hail of bullets near Shaheen hotel. Laiba’s uncle had no doubt who killed the child and named a sector in-charge and other representatives of a political party as being responsible for the murder.
Next to Laiba was 40-something Hussain, the father of three children and a labourer. A bullet had pierced his back and lodged itself in his abdomen. His nephew Islam says they were just sitting on the veranda at home when some bullets made their way inside.
Lying next to Hussain in ward No. 26 was another victim, 25-year-old Yusuf, who also hailed from Qasba Colony. Three tubes snaked into his body and disappeared into his abdomen. His brother Saeed said that Yusuf had just left home to go to work at a biscuit factory, when two bullets hit him. “We were preparing for his wedding next week. But now we just hope he stays alive,” he said.
SP Orangi Khurram Waris lamented that the Rangers were providing “just moral support” to control the situation. He said that Orangi had a reputation of being the “last battleground” since two political groups belonging to different ethnicities were both strong in his area. The officer said that he had made more than six arrests on Thursday, including the 12 others apprehended a day earlier. “But none of them are prominent,” he admitted.
Chief of police Saud Mirza said the police was also rescuing people in areas where they had been stranded in their homes for days because of the heavy firing. He stressed that unless all political parties came together on a single platform and engaged in dialogue instead of turning to violence, the situation would continue to worsen.
Meanwhile, investigations into the Gulshan-e-Iqbal case, where five people were shot dead early Wednesday morning when a public bus was taken hostage, has made little headway since the CCTV footage is blurry. All that one can see are two motorcycles chasing a bus in a long shot. Gulshan SI Chaudhry Nazar said they are working on getting their hands on more footage since the first video has proven fruitless from an investigation point of view. “One can’t even make out what the motorcycle numbers are or the faces of the culprits,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2011.