Baba, the ladla of Lyari’s fighters, wanted to be a cop

Published: May 5, 2012

Noor Mohammad aka Baba Ladla was made Rehman aka Dakait’s chief operational commander as early as 2009 and is believed to have been fighting since 2003. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: He stands tall, his hands behind his back, surveying all that belongs to him. Five feet seven inches of pure muscle and menace. The look says warrior but the name is a grandmother’s term of endearment: Baba Ladla.

His real name is a pious Noor Mohammad but everyone else knows him as one of Lyari’s baddest boys and Rehman aka Dakait’s chief operational commander. He was born in Kalri and went to the government secondary boys school, a far cry from his current occupation.

As I approach him, word spread like a Chinese whisper. Men, women and children draw slightly closer, aware of being within the same radius as one of Karachi’s most-feared men.

He mutters in Balochi to get rid of the crowd, but it doesn’t budge. He draws his pistol and fires a shot in the air.

Everyone flees.

After exchanging some pleasantries, we start to talk about the police operation. “They opened indiscriminate fire and killed people who were not involved,” he says with disgust. “They misbehaved with the women and broke into our homes and destroyed them.” Perhaps the police thought that by aggravating the residents, they would turn against Lyari’s gangsters.

As incentive, the government announced Rs3 million for Baba Ladla’s arrest. “What would the SSP do if I announced Rs5 million for the person who brought him to me dead or alive?” sneers Baba Ladla while referring to CID SSP Chaudhry Aslam, the chain-smoking nemesis who has made a career out of Lyari.

“Chaudhry Aslam has no idea what can happen to him in five seconds here. If God wills it, then the SSP will no longer be a problem for us.”

Who is the last man standing is anyone’s guess. But suffice it to say that if anything happened to Baba Ladla, there would be no gangs. They say this because Baba Ladla steps up to do the job himself instead of letting his boys take the heat. He is not one to run or hide.

Frustration over finding a job brought Baba Ladla, 32, into the fold of Dakait’s gang. After he passed his class VIII exams in 1990, his uncle Hameed alias Chachu, who was a friend of the late Usman Ghani, a PPP leader, got him a clerical job at a bank on II Chundrigar Road.

“I did that daily wages job for almost two years but was fired,” he says. “Subsequently I applied for the post of a police constable and used to visit the Central Police Office daily for a year as some cops gave me the hope that I would get the job.”

When nothing panned out, hash helped keep the kitchen fires burning. He is the eldest of four brothers, three of who went to jail: Rashid in Karachi, Zahid in Gadani and Zakir in Landhi.

“Since I had joined the drug mafia, confrontation with the police became a regular affair and I was picked up several times,” he says. His father, Ghulam Hussain, who works as a labourer with a major corporation, hasn’t spoken to him for the past 10 years.

The police have registered over 50 murder, attempted murder, extortion and kidnapping cases against him. If you want to find him though, you’ll need his men to help. They will lead you through Gul Mohammad Lane, past the Baba Ladla Mobile Communication Shop and then deeper into the maze to stop near Afshani Gali. Along the way to the final destination of Panjeri Road teenagers turned into men walking around with guns slung over their shoulders. You pick your way over dug-up roads and fallen electricity poles – a war zone that works ironically in favour of the men. No armoured personnel carrier can make it through.

As I prepare to part ways with Baba Ladla, I try my luck and ask him to pull the trigger to show a little marksmanship. He says he will but I should go to the morcha, towards Cheel Chowk, and wait. I march off, giddy with having met the man.

But when I turn around, he has vanished.

WITH WRITING BY TOOBA MASOOD

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Hasan Awan
    May 5, 2012 - 6:22AM

    Oh come one The bold heading includes “Five feet seven inches of pure muscle and menace”. Is that a joke or what?. In this Photo the Pure muscle man seems to be out of muscles and also Mentioning five feet seven as a way of expressing someone as Gigantic and by some means a Menace is mind boggling. In my city the average height is 5 feet 11 and this guy will be a minnow among others in my region based on Sheer Muscle and Physical Strength.
    The fact is that Only Weapons make you a menace and he is the same. Also a shame for ET that person known for 50 Murders is portrayed as a Hero by some means.

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  • Nabeel Khan
    May 5, 2012 - 9:17AM

    Please don’t depict such people as Heroes.Going through this story, makes me feel that I live in some Bollywood-type-underworld Zone !!

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  • talha
    May 5, 2012 - 9:52AM

    Stop portraying gangsters as heros and idols!

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  • I
    May 5, 2012 - 10:30AM

    such retards should be behind bars

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  • Amir
    May 5, 2012 - 10:31AM

    I think the writer is watching too many gangstar movies personifying and gloryfing the criminals.

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  • Hassan
    May 5, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Another story for bollywood

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  • SK - Salman
    May 5, 2012 - 11:39AM

    ET Correspondant Faraz Khan has done a superb job of profiling Ladla, thereby giving a window peek at elements of Karachi’s violence, mayhem, & murders of recent past. People need to realize that this is a person’s profile, the reporter is not portraying him as a hero or a villain. It cannot be a total charge-sheet of the person, condemning him for who he is, or there would be no incentive in the future for people like Ladla to agree to give an interview. For years we have been dumbfounded and at a loss to understand the background of Karachi’s lawlessness. These articles give us the insight to piece together a picture to visulaize the background of the breakdown of law and order.

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  • shaneel Deshi
    May 5, 2012 - 11:40AM

    My Dear Friend…

    Before few years he is not a Gangster…… The Hunger, Unemployment, Responsibilities, and
    Social Situation make him A Gangster when a person pick up lot of time from Police in minor & major Acts so its become a Big Gangster……

    I Respect Mr. Asalam Chudary SSP CID hard work & loss his family in his duties but when
    we use our efforts & power in our own home so Situation will be change and we are not expect how much we got loss.

    I request with President of Pakistan, Don’t Forget that the Next Election will be held in 2013, and Our beloved Chairmen Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Candidate of Lyari…..so open eyes for our Assets of Lyari and Since Birth of PPP they with us and always saying “JEAY BHUTTO” in regards of those time You Provide them a “Operation”.

    Wakeup Please Wakeup.

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  • sana
    May 5, 2012 - 1:34PM

    hahahaha stands tall at five feet seven! hilarious! plz get the definition of TALL first!

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  • star
    May 5, 2012 - 3:33PM

    Well the nature of his current profession is not much different.

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  • Asad
    May 5, 2012 - 3:46PM

    @sana: Is that the only thing you understood in this article?

    @writer: your are portraying him as a hero of a some movie please stop this all the drug dealing and target killings these people are involved in don’t make them a hero but a menace do you want your children following in thier foot steps? Offcourse he is going to tell you a made up story on how he was forced by the society to become a gangster and not his fault but the truth is he took the shortcut. How about hundreds of thousands of people who work hard to make a living should they all complain about the society and fate and become a gangster?

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  • Raza
    May 5, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Who is behind the Ladla ?
    and Who is the financier for killing
    Zulfiqar Mirza
    Loard Nazeer
    Shahi Syed

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  • Salman Orangiwala
    May 5, 2012 - 5:10PM

    So , what was the morale of the story ?

    Every fivefeet seven , unemployed , not on talking terms with the father , should take up a gun to earn a living peddling drugs , extorting money , kidnapping others ,killing innocents ?

    Pls stop portraying thugs as heroes with lame excuses to defend their misdeeds .

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  • xyz
    May 5, 2012 - 5:30PM

    For all those guys, who say men like him should be behind bars, I agree, but men like him are heroes only because of the men we find in the Assemblies. They made him a hero by providing him backing for all those years.

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  • alicia
    May 5, 2012 - 5:56PM

    Hope he gets arrested soon.

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  • Rabia A
    May 5, 2012 - 8:00PM

    Yay faraz. you nailed it again! great story.

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  • Raza
    May 6, 2012 - 9:06PM

    Well done faraz khan, i believed you are only journalist who met ladla in person… Very well done… this was your second master piece on Lyari.

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  • Shuja
    May 12, 2012 - 7:44PM

    We have to hate crime not the person. Try to understand the circumstances liyari people are facing we have to provide them good jobs and then these gangsters will automatically turn into peaceful peoples. Liyari is a place who elect two time prime minister and one president but their living standards never raise.

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