As the dust settled on Saturday, people came out of their homes in Lyari to find around 25 donkeys lying dead in the narrow lanes.
“Most of them were shot dead,” said a resident. “We are poor people. There is not enough space inside our homes for them. We had no choice but to leave them on the streets.”
The highest number of donkey casualties was reported from lanes around Gabol Park. Around eight were killed in a street right off Cheel Chowk, one of the worst hit by the fighting.
Sindh Donkey Cart Association president Syed Zulfiqar Shah said at least two prize ‘race donkeys’ were among those dead. “Bullets were being fired, there was tear gas shelling and grenade blasts. We cannot even imagine what the poor animals went through.”
Lyari is popular for many sports, including boxing and football, but it is equally famous for donkey racing. A competition is held every other week in which the owner of the fastest donkey is rewarded.
The donkeys used for transportation cost around Rs70,000. “But the ones used for racing are expensive. They are Iranian breed, fed almonds and their legs are oiled. One of these animals can cost up to Rs300,000,” said Shah. None of the animals were insured.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2012.