If you can’t get into Lyari because Rehman Dakait’s men hold the turf, what should be your next move? You try to enter through neighbouring Old Golimar and by surrounding Lyari. This explains why there has been an outbreak of violence in the area over the last three days. The gang war is back.
Arshad Pappu and Rehman Dakait, who was killed in August 2009, were the key actors in the long-running Lyari turf war. Arshad Pappu’s father Haji Lalu got out of jail two weeks ago and the first thing he did was round up all of Rehman Dakait’s enemies. “Haji Lalu has roped in all of those people who are against the Rehman Dakait group,” said police sources. “All of them believe that whoever is an enemy of Rehman Dakait is their ally.”
A well-placed source in the Pappu group told The Express Tribune that they sent a message to the Rehman Dakait group a week back, warning them to limit themselves to Lyari. “We made no bones about it,” he said. “We also told them to get the hell out of Old Golimar otherwise we’d go after them but it didn’t get into their heads.” His group’s aim is to first reoccupy the surrounding areas and then take back Lyari.
According to police sources, Pappu team members include Ghaffar Zikri, worth three million rupees in head money, his brother Sheraz Zikri, Pappu’s brother Shera, nephew Bilal, brother Hamid, Faizu Dada, Razzak Commando, Amjad Lashari and his elder brother Rauf Baloch, Akram Baloch, Gutter Baghicha Bachao Tehreek former president’s brother Nasir Baloch and a Baloch Liberation Army’s commander Jaffer Baloch.
“We have reports that Arshad Pappu’s group has called in 70 to 80 BLA men in order to accomplish their mission,” said SSP Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam Khan, who has spent a veritable lifetime battling Lyari’s gangsters. “The way they’ve been planning and the kind of weapons they have makes us anticipate that there’s going to be large-scale destruction.”
There are almost 18 goths with a population of nearly 110,000 people in Old Golimar and Gutter Baghicha. Residents are terrified with these developments and some of them have even gone to stay with relatives. “We have no choice. We don’t want to be sitting ducks,” were words to this effect from resident Khalil Baloch. “The police is responsible because it’s been standing around watching this tamasha unfold.”
Residents said that in Old Golimar and Pak Colony, Nasir Baloch is leading the Arshad Pappu group while Dakait’s brother-in-law Sajid is leading the others. “Until Tuesday [the Nasir group] had taken over Saleh Mohammad village and Haji Farya village and 19 morchas or fortifications of the rival Sajid group. Seven more morchas are left,” said another resident on condition of anonymity. The Sajid group is battling them from Noor Mohammad village, Haji Wali Mohammad village and Ghulam Mohammad village.
Since news spread about a police operation, most of the Pappu gangsters left, leaving the Sajid men to celebrate with aerial firing and sweets. As many as 1,500 policemen, including commandos from the Rapid Response Force, Special Protection Group have been deputed outside the affected areas.
Liaquatabad SP Khawaja Naveed Nisar said that they would impose a curfew. “We gave them two days to wrap it up otherwise we’d go in,” he said. “We have informers inside and as soon as they give us the signal, we’ll go in.”
There are two scenarios. Either the men will run when they see the police or they will put up a fight. “We are mentally prepared,” he said. “And we know that lives will be lost on both sides.” He refuted the notion that residents had left in fear. “We had announcements made from the mosques that people should leave because when we come in, innocent lives could be lost,” he said. “But people said that they would not leave and would stay inside and side with the police.” The SP said that the Pappu group had entered areas with nearly 70 hand grenades, 10 rocket-propelled grenades and other heavy weapons.
An SPG commando, Mohammad Ali, deputed in Old Golimar told The Express Tribune that nothing had happened since they had taken up positions. “As long as we are here nothing will happen,” he said. “And even if something happens, we’re here, aren’t we?”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.