KARACHI: Hundreds of Baloch Colony residents blocked the Shaheed-e-Millat Expressway on Sunday in protest against the ongoing police operation in Lyari.
Young men blocked the road for more than an hour and burnt tyres while women and children chanted slogans against the Pakistan Peoples Party’s government.
“We have cousins and friends who live in Lyari and they have run out of food,” said Baloch Colony resident, Iqbal. “There are gangsters on one side and policemen on the other, but what about the innocent people getting killed?”
The traffic coming from Korangi, Defence Housing Authority and Shahrae Faisal was forced to turn back. The few policemen present at the scene reportedly did not intervene.
Many families from the disturbed area of Lyari have moved in with relatives living in Baloch-dominated localities. Their plight and the news of police action have spread anger among the Baloch.
“We know that there are criminals and gangsters in Lyari but when will the police take action against those hiding in Orangi or New Karachi,” asked another resident, Yaseen Baloch.
Among the protests, there was cheering for the leader of the banned Peoples Amn Committee, Uzair Jan Baloch, one of the main targets of the police action. “Ek Lyari sab per bhari,” shouted the people, followed by, “Uzair Baloch zindabad, Uzair Bhai zindabad.”
Protests also took place at Jehangir Road, Baloch Para, Soldier Bazaar and Malir but authorities insisted that people were forced to come out of their homes. “The police action is against criminals, not any particular party or group,” clarified the south zone deputy commissioner, Jamal Mustafa Qazi, saying that these were attempts to keep the police out of Lyari. “These criminals are encouraging people to protest by giving the operation an ethnic angle.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.