Karachi’s trouble spot: Orangi under siege

Published: January 19, 2011
Rangers personnel wore black masks to protect their identities. PHOTO: ONLINE

Rangers personnel wore black masks to protect their identities. PHOTO: ONLINE


As many as 700 personnel of the Pakistan Rangers Sindh descended upon Orangi Town early Tuesday morning, arresting over 400 hundred suspects during a sweeping unannounced search operation.

Dozens of weapons and ammunition were also reportedly seized. However, most of the detainees were later released after they were found innocent. Around 50 people remained in custody and were being questioned.

The operation began at around 6 am and ended around noon. Reports suggest that, before the house-to-house search, Rangers detained people on their way to work in passenger buses, motorcycles and private cars, as well as onlookers who did not have CNICs on them. Soon after, transport was suspended and areas were sealed off to launch a door-to-door operation, in which Rangers used ladder to jump into houses.

The Rangers later released most of the detainees after their families submitted their CNICs.

Interestingly, while the operation was under way, the government issued a notification regarding the extension in special powers of the Rangers for another three months.

The search operation created panic and chaos among the residents. People were confined to their houses until they could produce their CNICs.

Official sources said that the operation was conducted in collaboration with the local police. However, the police did not participate and were only there to assist, similar to the time the Rangers raided Kunwari Colony in Manghopir. Reports claim that the Rangers carried out the operation on the directives of the Sindh home department following the current wave of  violence in the city, especially in parts of Orangi Town. A greater contingent is reportedly being called in for another house-to-house search operation in the area.

“The operation was not only carried out to target the killers but also to keep a check on lawlessness, the drug mafia and street criminals,” an official of the Sindh Rangers told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity. “The operation was also carried out on the pointation of suspects arrested during the recent violence.”

The detainees were hauled into trucks and shifted to unspecified locations. The official said that almost 70 to 80 per cent of the detainees were released shortly after they were found innocent.

The areas of Faqir Colony where the operation was carried out included Omer Baloch Mohalla and Mikati Para.

Aerial monitoring was also conducted during the operation to avoid the possibility of a suspect escaping.

Omer Baloch Mohalla is a Baloch dominated area of the Faqir Colony which falls under the jurisdiction of Mominabad police station. People from all ethnic backgrounds – but a majority of them Pakhtun, – live in the parts where the operation was conducted.

Area residents also protested against the large scale arrests. They claimed that the operation was one-sided and that the Rangers misbehaved with families and with females.

“Before launching such operations, the LEAs must have a list of the criminals and should only search those houses where they have information,” Haris Wakeel, a resident of Omer Baloch Mohalla said. “The LEAs tackled our mothers and sisters as though they were criminals.”

Resident Fazal Din, a daily wage earner, said the people of the area were already crippled by acute poverty, and found it extremely difficult to get work these days with the power and gas crisis under way. “I could not go to work due to today’s operation and I have to run my family at any cost; I do not have any money for my family today. Now who will pay me?” he said.

Another resident, Aman Khan, who was detained while on his way to work and then later released, said that he was arrested by the Rangers because he did not have his CNIC on him. “We avoid carrying CNICs and other documents with us because of looting incidents in the area,” he said. “It was an unannounced operation which is why I did not have my CNIC.”

On the other hand, residents of the surrounding areas were happy with the operation and were full of appreciation. “There are lots of criminals present in these localities and most of them are involved in the narcotics business,” said Lal Din, a resident of Urdu Chowk. “We are not just worried about the clashes between ethnic groups, we are troubled by the drug mafia and so we welcome the Rangers in this regard.”

Hidden identities: The men with black masks

Rangers’ officers and their guards covered their faces with black cloth masks, and also removed their nametags from their uniforms before entering Orangi town for the search operation.

A Rangers official told The Express Tribune that some personnel wore the black masks in order to protect their identities. In the past, there have been incidents when law enforcement authorities have been targeted.

“This is just a precautionary measure,” the Rangers officer said. He added that the mask served no other function as protecting one from gas shells.

He added that there was nothing odd about it because even commando units wear such masks when they conduct missions. He denied that this was done only to protect a few officers of the Rangers who went to the field to supervise the search operation.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Shuaib
    Jan 18, 2011 - 12:05PM

    All will be either released soon or vanish into some Bermuda Triangle and never be heard of againRecommend

  • PakiBoy
    Jan 18, 2011 - 12:14PM

    Finally ! a start of a much needed operation clean-up at Karachi. I can only hope that only criminal elements become a victim. Further, i pray that this time they are serious about cleaning this threat forever. But, nonetheless this is high time to conduct such operation to eliminate the wrongs in our society and to make sure they never get their heads up again, they need to be vanished for good and forever . Go rangers go ! But plz dont abuse ur powers .Recommend

  • Karim Javed
    Jan 18, 2011 - 1:05PM

    I will always blame politicians for these ruthless killings and threats in Karachi. Every time they start some taunting and blame game which in their words is political assaults, which they don’t know that ends in the shape of these killings. Don’t they know properly how to use words. Thousands of people include common men or we say citizens of Karachi are sent to jail in the case of pillion ridding, they don’t even know that what was their fault. Miss understanding between federal and provincial GOVT don’t know what they are doing.Recommend

  • Jan 18, 2011 - 1:26PM

    hope for the best onlyRecommend

  • Zuhair
    Jan 18, 2011 - 1:27PM

    Why operation only in Qasba Banaras Landhi and Orangi – why not go to azizabad, lalookhet, mali, lines area and new Karachi. You cannot solve this unless you capture the terrorists which are widespread and not confined to pukhtoons alone.Recommend

  • Syed A. Mateen
    Jan 18, 2011 - 1:31PM

    The operation should be conducted from Orangi to Korangi.

    It is a good show of law enforcement agencies. Hope that this will be bring ultimate peace in Karachi which is the heart of Pakistan and inshallah the economy will come back to the right track.

    It is unfortunate that people don’t learn lesson unless an iron hand is used.

    My all best wishes for the law enforcement agencies.Recommend

  • Jan 18, 2011 - 2:51PM

    Creating hype about curfews and search operation would have prompted the real culprits to go underground. What kind of policy it is?? With so much advanced technology available, informers network can be established with immediate actions on leads. That alone can rectify culprits from the society. I am sure most of the real faces are already gone in hideouts.Recommend

  • Iftikhar-ur-Rehman
    Jan 18, 2011 - 3:04PM

    Hundreds of terrorists were arrested in Swat action and South Waziristan plus those involved in attacks on GHQ, Parade Ground Mosque , Hamza Camp etc have either been released or lost in oblivion. No one knows where they are? Have they been punished? Most of them must have been released. WHY? Similarly the people arrested for target killing will be released.
    Bring them out in public , whether they are from any political party.Make an example of a few terrorists / target killers and I assure you there will be reduction in terrorism / target killing.Recommend

  • Kashif
    Jan 18, 2011 - 3:22PM

    With the announcement of operation in the electronic and print media, the perpetrators were given a helping hand to leave the areas marked and move to safe havens until the operation continues. Now the risk remains that common man will be the one most affected by this operation.Recommend

  • ALi
    Jan 18, 2011 - 3:43PM

    It is all useless. We all know that they will be released soon and we will not hear anything about them again. We all know that Violence in the city will still continue. We all know that when there’s violence in the city the government officials, police, rangers they come and say nice nice words on the TV channels then disappear. Recommend

  • muneer danish
    Jan 18, 2011 - 4:12PM

    Operation should be extended new kachi abadies around Northern bypass, banaras, kati pahari and scheem 33. Most of the miscreants are operating and hiding inthese areas. Recommend

  • sabeen
    Jan 18, 2011 - 4:27PM

    our police only arrest innocent people, because they don’t have any way out.. the real culprits are still roaming aroundRecommend

  • Jan 18, 2011 - 4:55PM

    how many among them are innocent. Police catches innocent men just to bring up the number of arrested citizens.Recommend

  • SherY
    Jan 18, 2011 - 5:31PM

    Newly designed candies for the media…………. verities are available in form of lollypop as well. what the hack, our urdu media has nothing to air except killing and bombing. sometimes it feels like they are in search of such a accident just to keep themself alive. huh!. sombody making stupid talk shows with a horrible titles like “Karachi Jal raha hai” or “Karachi Karchi Karchi”, god! what really happened in this world biggest metropolis. Only 10% of the city is effected, rest part is still lively as always, but what one can see on TV is like everyone living in karachi is being killed or harassed, one of my cousin bro called me from Lahore asking Man, go elsewhere just leave karachi how the hell you are living in this deadly city!

    FOR GOD SAKE!. stop this evil play, We are safe, and happy in Karachi, our kids are going to school, night life is still active, restaurants, shops and bazzars are still inviting and full of crowds, show the big shiny part instead of just a tiny dark hole.Recommend

  • Syed
    Jan 19, 2011 - 11:10AM

    Again they play havoc with lives of innocent !
    They attack people of Orangi! who themselves are Victim of Offence in Killings from Mountaineuos Tribal Region of Karachi.Recommend

  • Shahryar+Ahmed
    Jan 19, 2011 - 11:14AM

    Fianlly, this was required for a very long time. Now let’s clear up Karachi once & for all & let us get to work for the whole of Pakistan. Recommend

  • Majnun
    Jan 19, 2011 - 2:18PM

    I am amazed at the subtle reference to the comments by resident of the “Urdu” Chowk in the story. I would like to ask Express Tribune what policy has it adopted!!! Reporting, firstly, that operation was carried out in a poshtoon-majority area and then point out that there was appreciation from the adjoining areas. The only comment of appreciation that Express Tribune found worthy of publishing in the story was by a resident of the ‘Urdu’ Chowk. Are you trying to stoke ethnic divisions among the readers too? Please clarify this as I find is very disturbing and grossly unethical. Recommend

  • Camran Samad
    Jan 19, 2011 - 2:40PM

    But What They Are Scare Off??????Recommend

  • Uzair Javaid
    Jan 19, 2011 - 4:44PM

    I would have much liked any operation, had MQM not been into power. They would certainly not let rangers into its side of the backyard where they the most brutal killers and trained millitias of Pakistan. Poor people of Orangi who have been suffering already a lot due to these people would now suffer from an operation, but atleast some peace is to prevail there inshaAllahRecommend

  • IA
    Jan 19, 2011 - 5:30PM

    Is CNIC a criteria of being criminal or innocent?????Recommend

  • Balma
    Jan 20, 2011 - 8:30AM

    What the heck is this?
    Why do we have to speak English?
    Why do we need so many English newspapers in Pakistan?Recommend

  • barlas
    Jan 20, 2011 - 4:23PM

    The whole country need this type of operation to protect the Nation.Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 21, 2011 - 7:42PM

    It just a face saving exercise sadly. Most of the arrested have already been released.
    Its laughable actually. If they are so conerend why they did not see the need of doing this exercise before all the mess.Recommend

  • Canuckistani
    Jan 21, 2011 - 11:27PM

    Good job rangers! Now do the same all over PakistanRecommend

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