As the operation in Lyari continued for a sixth day, authorities have decided to call in reinforcements – Rangers and extra police personnel – to bring the operation to a “logical conclusion.”
Station House Officers (SHOs) from district East, over 100 sharp shooters and four extra armoured personnel carriers (APCs) have been called in as preparations began for the final round of the police operation in Lyari. Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah and police sources said that Rangers has also been called in.
Seven people were killed, while 40 others were injured, as the troubled neighbourhood witnessed a sixth day of violence on Wednesday.
Police officials said that 35 SHOs from District East arrived in Lyari while the remaining officers from the city were expected to arrive late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.
About 25 police snipers also arrived from rural Sindh, and 75 more are on their way.
Deputy Inspector Generals of police from all three zones of Karachi were also summoned at the police base camp near Cheel Chowk.
Sources also said that the police has been making maps with the help of collaborators and it is expected that the operation would end on Thursday (today).
Meanwhile, during the operation on Wednesday, the police tried to enter the Cheel Chowk, Gul Mohammad Lane, Saifi Lane and Lea Market localities again, but faced strong resistance.
Three policemen from the Boat Basin police station were held hostage and released after being roughed up by gangsters in the Kalakot locality.
Statements issued by various Pakistan Peoples Party leaders and top police officials calling for a ceasefire in Lyari have also brought down the morale of the policemen involved in the operation. “It has been six days since the operation started, yet not even one reliable strategy has been created. It seems like we have been left to die here,” confided one policeman.
Those killed on Wednesday included one alleged gangster and six civilians. A seven-year-old boy identified as Noor Zaib was killed by a stray bullet while riding his bicycle near his house in Kalakot. Ismail Kutchi, 60, was killed and four others were wounded in Jumma Baloch Road in Kalri locality.
A woman identified as Sajjan Bibi, 22, was shot dead in Chakiwara, while a man identified as Amjad Asghar was killed near Cheel Chowk.
Eighteen-year-old Zafar Kutchi was killed in Nawa Lane, while an unidentified young man was also killed near the Lyari General Hospital. Witnesses claimed that the police’s APC hit and killed him.
Late Wednesday night, police claimed to have killed two alleged miscreants in Lyari’s Afshani Gali while two more were reportedly arrested. The Pak Colony police station was also reportedly attacked.
Police sources also said that Rangers has been called into Lyari.
Rangers’ Sachal Wing Commander Brig Waseem Ayub neither confirmed nor denied the report when contacted, and said that the media would be informed about the decision on Thursday.
Sindh CM blames separatists, Taliban
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that separatist groups and the Taliban are supporting criminals in Lyari but the government knows how to deal with them.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday after presiding over a law and order meeting at the CM House, Shah said that “the operation has not been launched to appease any group or party, but was prompted by the murder of PPP leader Malik Muhammad Khan.” The chief minister said that Rangers and paramilitary forces will be called in for further action.
He also announced Rs2 million for legal heirs of each police personnel killed in the operation in Lyari, and financial compensation for civilians who have lost their lives in the violence.
Baloch nationalists protest
Baloch nationalist parties staged demonstrations in various districts of Balochistan to protest against what they called a targeted operation in Lyari against the Baloch population.
Jamhoori Waten Party chief Nawabzada Talal Bugti, BNP chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal, President of National Party Senator Dr Malik Baloch, Baloch Nationalist leader Nawabzda Hyrbiyar Marri, General Secretary of BNP-Awami Asad Baloch condemned the Lyari operation. Baloch Republican Party (BRP) leader Brahmdagh Bugti also called for a shutter-down strike on May 4. (With additional input by Hafeez Tunio in Karachi and Shehzad Baloch in Quetta)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2012.